Atmospheric & Environmental Chemistry Seminars

Wildfire – climate interactions mediated by lightning, aerosols, and heatwaves

James T. Randerson, Professor, University of California, Irvine

Nov 19, 2021
12:00 pm to 1:00 pm | Remote

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Wildfire regimes are rapidly changing at a global scale, with losses of fire in ancient tropical grasslands and increases in burned area and fire severity in temperate and boreal forest ecosystems. Climate and wildfire feedback on one another through a variety of pathways, and in my talk, I will highlight several recent studies from my laboratory exploring these interactions. In the first half of my talk I will describe how future changes in lightning within Arctic and boreal regions pose a threat to permafrost carbon, in a positive feedback loop. In the second half of my talk I will examine fire aerosol impacts on radiation, climate, and planetary photosynthesis using the US. Dept. of Energy’s Energy Exascale Earth System Model (E3SM). This work reveals a negative feedback pathway by which fire aerosols in tropical ecosystems increase surface relative humidity, which in turn may increase fuel moisture levels and limit fire emissions during periods of drought. I will conclude by describing the impacts of daily temperature extremes in structuring wildfire occurrence and burned area using satellite observations of wildfires from California.


Zhen Qu

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