Tracking Smoke from a Prescribed Fire and its Impacts on Local Air Quality using Temporally Resolved GOES-16 ABI Aerosol Optical Depth (AOD)

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  • 1 I.M. Systems Group, 5835 University Research Ct, Suite 3250, College Park, MD 20740
  • 2 NOAA/NESDIS, 5835 University Research Ct, Suite 3250, College Park, MD 20740
  • 3 Joint Center of Earth Systems Technology (JCET) and NOAA Center for Earth System Sciences and Remote Sensing Science & Technologies (CESSRST), University of Maryland, Baltimore County (UMBC), 1000 Hilltop Circle, Baltimore, MD 21250
  • 4 NASA/GSFC, Code 613, Greenbelt, MD 20771
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Abstract

Aerosol optical depth (AOD) retrieved from the GOES-16 Advanced Baseline Imager (ABI) was used to track a smoke plume from a prescribed fire in northeastern Virginia on March 8, 2020. Weather and atmospheric conditions created a favorable environment to transport the plume through the Washington, DC and Baltimore, Maryland metro areas in the afternoon and concentrate smoke near the surface, degrading air quality for several hours. ABI AOD with 5-min temporal resolution and 2-km spatial resolution definitively identified the timing and geographic extent of the plume during daylight hours. Comparison to AERONET AOD indicates that ABI AOD captured the relative change in AOD due to passage of the smoke, with a mean absolute error of 0.047. Ground-based measurements of fine particulate matter (PM2.5) confirm deteriorations in air quality coincident with the progression of the smoke. Ceilometer aerosol backscatter profiles verify plume transport timing and indicate that smoke aerosols were well mixed in a shallow boundary layer. This event illustrates the advantages of using multiple datasets to analyze the impacts of aerosols on ambient air quality. Given the quickly evolving nature of the event over several hours, ABI AOD provided information for the public and decision-makers that was not available from any other source, including polar-orbiting satellite sensors. This study suggests that PM2.5 concentrations estimated from ABI AOD can be used to fill in the gaps in nationwide regulatory PM2.5 monitor networks and may be a valuable addition to EPA’s PM2.5 Nowcast of current air quality conditions.

Corresponding author: Amy K. Huff, amy.huff@noaa.gov

Abstract

Aerosol optical depth (AOD) retrieved from the GOES-16 Advanced Baseline Imager (ABI) was used to track a smoke plume from a prescribed fire in northeastern Virginia on March 8, 2020. Weather and atmospheric conditions created a favorable environment to transport the plume through the Washington, DC and Baltimore, Maryland metro areas in the afternoon and concentrate smoke near the surface, degrading air quality for several hours. ABI AOD with 5-min temporal resolution and 2-km spatial resolution definitively identified the timing and geographic extent of the plume during daylight hours. Comparison to AERONET AOD indicates that ABI AOD captured the relative change in AOD due to passage of the smoke, with a mean absolute error of 0.047. Ground-based measurements of fine particulate matter (PM2.5) confirm deteriorations in air quality coincident with the progression of the smoke. Ceilometer aerosol backscatter profiles verify plume transport timing and indicate that smoke aerosols were well mixed in a shallow boundary layer. This event illustrates the advantages of using multiple datasets to analyze the impacts of aerosols on ambient air quality. Given the quickly evolving nature of the event over several hours, ABI AOD provided information for the public and decision-makers that was not available from any other source, including polar-orbiting satellite sensors. This study suggests that PM2.5 concentrations estimated from ABI AOD can be used to fill in the gaps in nationwide regulatory PM2.5 monitor networks and may be a valuable addition to EPA’s PM2.5 Nowcast of current air quality conditions.

Corresponding author: Amy K. Huff, amy.huff@noaa.gov
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