Upper Troposphere Smoke Injection from Large Areal Fires: Article No. e2020JD034332

Stephanie Redfern, Julie Lundquist, Owen Toon, Domingo Munoz-Esparza, Charles Bardeen, Branko Kosovic

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus Citations


Large areal fires, such as those ignited following a nuclear detonation, can inject smoke into the upper troposphere and lower stratosphere. Detailed fire simulations allow for assessment of how local weather interacts with these fires and affects smoke lofting. In this study, we employ the fire simulation package in the Weather Research and Forecasting (WRF-Fire) model, Version 4.0.1, to explore how smoke lofting from a fire burning a homogeneous fuel bed changes with varying local winds, relative humidity, and atmospheric boundary-layer stability for two different-sized areal fires. The presence of moisture has the greatest influence on the results by raising the altitude of lofting, while faster wind speeds dampen lofting and lower the injection height. Stably stratified conditions inhibit plume propagation compared with neutrally stratified conditions, although the impact of stability is not as strong as that of moisture and winds. These findings highlight the importance of using an appropriate atmospheric profile when simulating large fires, as the local weather can have a meaningful influence on smoke lofting.
Original languageAmerican English
Number of pages24
JournalJournal of Geophysical Research: Atmospheres
Issue number23
StatePublished - 2021

NREL Publication Number

  • NREL/JA-5000-81470


  • fire modeling
  • large-eddy simulation
  • LES
  • Weather Research and Forecasting model


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