The FireWork air quality forecast system with near-real-time biomass burning emissions: recent developments and evaluation of performance for the 2015 North American wildfire season
Document Type: Journal Article
Author(s): Radenko Pavlovic; Jack Chen; Kerry R. Anderson; Michael D. Moran; Paul-André Beaulieu; Didier Davignon; Sophie Cousineau
Publication Year: 2016

Cataloging Information

  • air quality
  • Canada
  • carbon
  • climate change
  • fire management
  • multiscale gem model
  • particulate matter
  • pollution
  • predictions
  • simulation
  • smoke management
  • transport model
  • wildfires
Record Maintained By:
Record Last Modified: January 29, 2019
FRAMES Record Number: 55167
Tall Timbers Record Number: 33103
TTRS Location Status: Not in file
TTRS Call Number: Available via ILL only
TTRS Abstract Status: Fair use, Okay

This bibliographic record was either created or modified by the Tall Timbers Research Station and Land Conservancy and is provided without charge to promote research and education in Fire Ecology. The E.V. Komarek Fire Ecology Database is the intellectual property of the Tall Timbers Research Station and Land Conservancy.


Environment and Climate Change Canada's FireWork air quality (AQ) forecast system for North America with near-real-time biomass burning emissions has been running experimentally during the Canadian wildfire season since 2013. The system runs twice per day with model initializations at 00 UTC and 12 UTC, and produces numerical AQ forecast guidance with 48-hr lead time. In this work we describe the FireWork system, which incorporates near-real-time biomass burning emissions based on the Canadian Wildland Fire Information System (CWFIS) as an input to the operational Regional Air Quality Deterministic Prediction System (RAQDPS). To demonstrate the capability of the system we analyzed two forecast periods in 2015 (June 2-July 15, and August 15-31) when fire activity was high, and observed fire-smoke-impacted areas in western Canada and the western United States. Modeled PM2.5 surface concentrations were compared with surface measurements and benchmarked with results from the operational RAQDPS, which did not consider near-real-time biomass burning emissions. Model performance statistics showed that FireWork outperformed RAQDPS with improvements in forecast hourly PM2.5 across the region; the results were especially significant for stations near the path of fire plume trajectories. Although the hourly PM2.5 concentrations predicted by FireWork still displayed bias for areas with active fires for these two periods (mean bias [MB] of -7.3 mg m(-3) and 3.1 mg m(-3)), it showed better forecast skill than the RAQDPS (MB of -11.7 mg m(-3) and -5.8 mg m(-3)) and demonstrated a greater ability to capture temporal variability of episodic PM2.5 events (correlation coefficient values of 0.50 and 0.69 for FireWork compared to 0.03 and 0.11 for RAQDPS). A categorical forecast comparison based on an hourly PM2.5 threshold of 30 mu g m(-3) also showed improved scores for probability of detection (POD), critical success index (CSI), and false alarm rate (FAR).Implications: Smoke from wildfires can have a large impact on regional air quality (AQ) and can expose populations to elevated pollution levels. Environment and Climate Change Canada has been producing operational air quality forecasts for all of Canada since 2009 and is now working to include near-real-time wildfire emissions (NRTWE) in its operational AQ forecasting system. An experimental forecast system named FireWork, which includes NRTWE, has been undergoing testing and evaluation since 2013. A performance analysis of FireWork forecasts for the 2015 wildfire season shows that FireWork provides significant improvements to surface PM2.5 forecasts and valuable guidance to regional forecasters and first responders.

Online Link(s):
Pavlovic, R., J. Chen, K. Anderson, M. D. Moran, P. A. Beaulieu, D. Davignon, and S. Cousineau. 2016. The FireWork air quality forecast system with near-real-time biomass burning emissions: recent developments and evaluation of performance for the 2015 North American wildfire season. Journal of the Air & Waste Management Association, v. 66, no. 9, p. 819-841. 10.1080/10962247.2016.1158214.