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Evaluation of Wildfire Plume Injection Heights Estimated from Operational Weather Radar Observations using Airborne Lidar Retrievals
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  • Mansa Krishna,
  • Pablo Enrique Saide,
  • Xinxin Ye,
  • Francis Turney,
  • Johnathan Hair,
  • Marta A Fenn,
  • Taylor Shingler
Mansa Krishna
Dartmouth College

Corresponding Author:mansa.krishna.gr@dartmouth.edu

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Pablo Enrique Saide
University of California, Los Angeles

Corresponding Author:saide@atmos.ucla.edu

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Xinxin Ye
University of California, Los Angeles
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Francis Turney
University of California, Los Angeles
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Johnathan Hair
NASA Langley Research Center
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Marta A Fenn
Science Systems and Applications, Inc
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Taylor Shingler
NASA Langley
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The vertical distribution of wildfire smoke aerosols is important in determining its environmental impacts but existing observations of smoke heights generally do not possess the temporal resolution required to fully resolve the diurnal behavior of wildfire smoke injection. We use Weather Surveillance Radar-1988 Doppler (WSR-88D) dual polarization data to estimate injection heights of Biomass Burning Debris (BBD) generated by fires. We detect BBD as a surrogate for smoke aerosols, which are often collocated with BBD near the fire but are not within the size range detectable by these radars. Injection heights of BBD are derived for 2-10 August 2019, using radar reflectivity (Z≥10 dBZ) and dual polarization correlation coefficients (0.2<C.C.<0.9) to study the Williams Flats Fire event. Results show the expected diurnal cycles with maximum injection heights present during the late afternoon period when the fire’s intensity and convective mixing are maximized. Radar and airborne lidar injection height comparisons reveal that this method is sensitive to outliers and generally overpredicts maximum heights by 40%, though mean and median heights are better captured (<20% mean error). Radar heights between the 75th and 90thpercentile seem to accurately represent the maximum, with the exception of heights estimated during the occurrence of pyro-cumulonimbus. Location specific mapping of radar and lidar injection heights reveal that they diverge further away from the fire due to BBD settling. Most importantly, radar-derived injection height estimates provide near continuous smoke height information, allowing for the study of diurnal variability of smoke injections.  
06 Sep 2023Submitted to ESS Open Archive
11 Sep 2023Published in ESS Open Archive