Research Approach

Our study will encompass both a forecasting and retrospective (historical) component for evaluating burning in the Flint Hills. The prospective component will include the 2008 through 2010 burning seasons in the Flint Hills and will focus on refining techniques for predicting measuring fuel loads and burn extent needed for modeling smoke plume behavior. The retrospective component will use land cover and meteorological data back to the 2001 growing season to develop a climatological relationship between air quality and burning. Our proposed project consists of four components:

•  a remote sensing component, for mapping the location and time of occurrence of rangeland fires in the Flint Hills,

•  biomass estimation component, combining remote sensing, field measurement, and modeling to determine the amount of biomass combusted in each fire event,

•  a particulate modeling component, in which maps of fire time, location, and combusted biomass (produced by components 2 and 3 are used to estimate particulate concentrations in the three cities. This component will be conducted by personnel at SHRMC, in cooperative agreement with our collaborative team ,

•  a synoptic climatology analysis of particulate concentrations in the three cities comprising the study area (see Figure 1) to use as a standard by which to evaluate the effectiveness of the particulate estimation methods.

In addition, our project also features an extension/educational component, in which the results of the study will be disseminated to land owners and key decision makers, providing them with the decision tools to prevent or mitigate the pollution from rangeland burning in the Flint Hills.