Regional Smoke Information
Smoke management consists of policies and practices implemented by natural resource managers and air specialists to minimize public health and welfare impacts of smoke from fires that are managed for resource benefits. Smoke management programs are typically developed by states and tribes with the cooperation and participation of many stakeholders. In general, smoke management programs require:
Technical Smoke Management Tools
The Pacific Northwest is home to some of the most advanced smoke management technical tools anywhere:
- knowledge of the fuels to be burned, such as the location, type, and amount of the biomass;
- evaluation of air quality and meteorological conditions to predict smoke dispersion (elevation and direction) and airshed affects;
- a process to authorize specific fires if conditions are appropriate; and
- tools to monitor and respond to impacts.
- BlueSky-RAINS is an automated, web-based, centralized, smoke-modeling framework that can be used to predict the cumulative impact of smoke concentrations at ground level from planned burn activities and wildfires. The system can be used by burn managers, fire fighters, air regulators, health agencies, and the public to see predicted patterns of smoke concentrations in relation to cities, hospitals, schools, parks, and other sensitive areas. BlueSky-RAINS is being developed through a collaborative effort of the USDA Forest Service, Pacific Northwest Research Station, and EPA Region 10 computer and air quality experts, along with other federal, state, tribal, and local agencies that share concerns about clean air and sound resource management practices.
- ClearSky is a dispersion forecasting system developed by Washington State University’s Laboratory for Atmospheric Research for the management of agricultural field burning smoke. This system was initially developed in 2002 for Idaho's Kootenai and Benewah counties. In 2003, it was expanded to the south to include Idaho’s Clearwater Valley and Nez Perce Tribal lands, and to the east to include eastern Washington. ClearSky allows smoke managers and air quality specialist to input field-burning scenarios and then review animations of simulation results, through the project website, prior to making burn decisions.
Programs and Plans in the Northwest
- MM5 (short for Fifth-Generation NCAR/Penn State Mesoscale Model)
The Department of Atmospheric Sciences at the University of Washington produces high resolution meteorological forecasts for the Pacific Northwest twice a day. These forecasts are used by smoke management coordinators throughout the Northwest to assess meteorological conditions, such as ventilation, wind speed, wind direction, and precipitation prior to making to burn decisions.