The main objective of this proposed research is to investigate the hypothesis that the timing and extent of rangeland burns in the Flint Hills are directly linked to concentrations of air pollution (particulates and chemical compounds) in the Kansas City, Omaha, and Tulsa metropolitan airsheds. Our method for accomplishing this objective will be to focus on the background research needed to accurately parameterize the BlueSky emissions model for tallgrass prairie. Our research will address five tasks:
1.) Development of a remote sensing based method for determining the extent, timing and total combusted biomass of rangeland burns in the Flint Hills, using data from the EOS-Terra MODIS instrument.
2.) Modeling fuel loads and fire emissions from grassland biomass estimates under varying biomass, grazing and interannual climate variation conditions.
3.) Incorporation of these improved grassland parameters into the BlueSky emissions model. This component of the study will be conducted in cooperation with emissions modelers from the US Forest Service Southern High Resolution Modeling Center (SHRMC), located in Athens, Georgia.
4.) Development of a climatology of air pollution events in the three downwind urban areas in order to test how well the modeled results in Objective 3 accurately reflect air quality conditions.
5.) Development of outreach programs to more effectively disseminate the information that burn managers need to conduct safe and effective burning while minimizing air quality impacts