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Modeling Post-Fire Ash and Dust Emissions in Complex Terrain

Published by the American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers, St. Joseph, Michigan

Citation:  2010 Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, June 20 - June 23, 2010  1008348.(doi:10.13031/2013.31937)
Authors:   Natalie S Wagenbrenner, Brian K Lamb, Randy B Foltz, Pete R Robichaud
Keywords:   Aeolian transport; post-fire erosion; CFD; wind erosion; complex terrain

Aeolian erosion has been understudied compared to its fluvial counterpart in post-wildfire environments; however, aeolian and fluvial mechanisms operate in concert to influence these disturbed landscapes, often with synergistic effects which may lead to increased total erosion in these environments. Blowing dust and ash from burned areas can impact visibility, air quality, water quality, soil productivity, and nutrient transport. Current wind erosion models are not capable of predicting dust emissions in these disturbed areas because (1) little is known about the erosion mechanisms that govern emissions from burned soil and ash and (2) wind models have not been adapted to predict local terrain effects on winds in the mountainous regions where wildfires often occur. In this paper we present a modeling approach for predicting ash and dust emissions in post-fire environments with complex terrain as well as calibration and validation methods for model evaluation. We propose linkage of an existing computational fluid dynamics (CFD) code with an existing dust algorithm to generate gridded PM10 vertical fluxes from burned landscapes. This paper outlines the development of the linked model and describes the ongoing CFD validation effort, which is a critical first step in model development.

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