Modelling pyro-convection phenomenon during a mega-fire event in Portugal
Document Type: Journal Article
Author(s): Cátia Campos; Flavio Tiago Couto; Jean-Baptiste Filippi; Roberta Baggio; Rui Salgado
Publication Year: 2023

Cataloging Information

  • ForeFire model
  • mega-fires
  • megafires
  • MesoNH atmosphere model
  • Portugal
  • pyro-convection
  • pyroCb
  • PyroCu
  • pyrocumulonimbus
  • pyrocumulus
  • International
Record Maintained By:
Record Last Modified: May 26, 2023
FRAMES Record Number: 68069


The present study contributes to an increased understanding of pyro-convection phenomena by using a fire-atmosphere coupled simulation, and investigates in detail the large-scale meteorological conditions affecting Portugal during the occurrence of multiple mega-fires events on 15 October 2017. Two numerical simulations were performed using the MesoNH atmospheric model. The first simulation, was run for a large single domain (300 × 250 grid points) with a 15 km resolution. In the second one, the MesoNH was coupled to a fire propagation model (ForeFire) to study in detail the Quiaios's fire. To optimize both high resolution in the proximity of the fire region and computational efficiency, the simulation is set up using 3 nested domains (300 × 300 grid points) with horizontal resolution of 2000 m, 400 m, and 80 m respectively. The emission into the atmosphere of the heat and the water vapour fluxes caused by the evolving fire is managed by the ForeFire code. The fire spatio-temporal evolution is based on an assigned map, which follows what reported by public authorities. At the large scale, the simulation shows the evolution of the hurricane Ophelia, pointing out the influence of south/southwest winds on the rapid spread of active fires, as well as the subtropical moisture transport toward mainland Portugal in the early evening, when violent pyro-convective activity was observed in Central Portugal. The coupled simulation allowed to reproduce the formation of a PyroCu cloud inside the smoke plume. The convective updraughts caused by the fire led to the vertical transport of water vapour to higher levels and enhanced the development of a high-based cloud over a dry atmospheric layer within the smoke plume.

Online Link(s):
Campos, Cátia; Couto, Flavio Tiago; Filippi, Jean-Baptiste; Baggio, Roberta; Salgado, Rui. 2023. Modelling pyro-convection phenomenon during a mega-fire event in Portugal. Atmospheric Research 290:106776.