Fires and Their Impacts, From Household Burning to Wildfires

Dr. Christine Wiedinmyer

Associate Director for Science

Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences

University of Colorado, Boulder

Tuesday, February 21, 2023, 2 PM ET



Fires, including wildfires, prescribed burns, agricultural burning, or residential biomass burning, emit substantial amounts of particles, reactive trace gases, and longer lived species to the atmosphere. These emissions and the products from downwind chemical processing degrade air quality, impact climate, and can contribute to negative human health outcomes. There are many existing efforts to quantify emissions from biomass burning. These efforts take advantage of laboratory and field measurements, remote sensing observations, and various modeling tools. The Fire INventory from NCAR (FINN) is one model that predicts fire emissions today and in the recent past. FINN emission estimates are used to assess the importance of biomass burning emissions relative to other sources, and, in conjunction with chemical and climate models, to evaluate their impacts, from influencing weather-related processes, degrading air quality, and altering the climate system. Despite great advances in the ability to identify and quantify emissions from biomass burning, the techniques used to predict emissions and understand their fate and transport in the atmosphere remain uncertain. For this presentation, I will give an overview of my past and current biomass burning research, from open fires to the use of biomass burning for heating and cooking purposes, highlighting new advances in our ability to predict biomass burning emissions and their impacts, and suggesting ways to improve our efforts in the future.



Dr. Christine Wiedinmyer is the Associate Director for Science at the University of Colorado (CU) Boulder’s Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences and a research professor in the Department of Mechanical Engineering. Prior to CU Boulder, Dr. Wiedinmyer was a Scientist at the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR). Dr. Wiedinmyer’s research focuses on the prediction of pollutant emissions and modeling the transport and fate of emitted pollutants in the atmosphere. She is the creator of the Fire INventory from NCAR (FINN) model that estimates emissions of pollutants from open burning globally; the FINN emissions estimates have been applied in numerous air quality and climate studies to evaluate their impacts. She is the recipient of the Walter Orr Roberts Lecturer for Interdisciplinary Sciences from the American Meteorological Society (2014) and the 2022 Colorado Governor’s Award for High-Impact Research. Dr. Wiedinmyer is founding member and a current Board member of the Earth Science Women’s Network. Dr. Wiedinmyer received her Ph.D. in Chemical Engineering from the University of Texas Austin.



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Feb 21 2023


John Xun Yang