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WIREs Clim Change
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The climate–wildfire–air quality system: interactions and feedbacks across spatial and temporal scales

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Future climate change and its effects on social and ecological systems present challenges for preserving valued ecosystem services, including local and regional air quality. Wildfire is a major source of air‐quality impact in some locations, and a substantial contributor to pollutants of concern, including nitrogen oxides and particulate matter, which are regulated to protect public and environmental health. Since climate change is expected to increase total area burned by wildfire and wildfires affect air quality, which is regulated, there is a need to define and study climate, wildfire, and air quality as one system. We review interactions and feedbacks acting across space and time within the climate–wildfire–air quality system, providing a foundation for integrated modeling and for assessing the ecological and social impacts of this system and its broader ecological, social, and scientific implications. WIREs Clim Change 2014, 5:719–733. doi: 10.1002/wcc.303 This article is categorized under: Assessing Impacts of Climate Change > Evaluating Future Impacts of Climate Change Integrated Assessment of Climate Change > Applications of Integrated Assessment to Climate Change
Conceptual space–time diagram of the climate–wildfire–air quality system with components: air quality (black), climate (blue), and wildfire (red). This space–time diagrams have been modified with permission, to include the air quality and climate components, the feedback loops (double‐pointed arrows), and effects (single‐pointed arrows) of the climate–wildfire–air quality system across scales. (Reprinted with permission from Ref . Copyright 2005 National Academy of Sciences)
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Examples of pristine air quality (top panels) and degraded air quality (bottom panels) in Yosemite National Park (CA, USA; left) and Glacier National Park (MT, USA; right). bext represents light extinction whereby low values are typical for clear conditions and high are typical of degraded visibility. (Reprinted with permission from IMPROVE; http://vista.cira.colostate.edu/improve/)
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Displayed are the modeling components of the climate–wildfire–air quality system and how the components connect to model the system as a whole. RCP = representative concentration pathway; GCM = global climate model; RCM = regional climate model; ST = smoke transport model; LFM = landscape fire model; DGVM = dynamic global vegetation model; LFSM = landscape fire succession model; CTM = chemical transport model; CFD = computational fluid dynamic model; EF = emissions factor; FOFEM = first‐order fire effects model.
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Mean radiative forcing over an 80‐year fire cycle in the boreal forest of interior Alaska. Numbers are the percentage of total net radiative forcing from each component. Positive numbers represent increased forcing (i.e., positive feedback to climate change); negative numbers are decreased forcing. The dashed line represents the change in climatic forcing of fire regimes, thus closing the feedback loop.
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Assessing Impacts of Climate Change > Evaluating Future Impacts of Climate Change
Integrated Assessment of Climate Change > Applications of Integrated Assessment to Climate Change

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