RESEARCH & PUBLICATIONS



Smoke plumes: emissions and effects

View brief.

Smoke is challenging. It can be lofted high into the atmosphere to interact with cloud processes. It can smolder near the ground, depositing emissions. The combination of aerosols and trace gases create their own chemical mix, with reactions that are as yet unidentified. Temperature and atmospheric water content interact with the smoke plume and fog processes. Smoke also blocks the transmission of solar radiation, hindering photolysis reactions. Many of the trace gases emitted from wildland fires have yet to be identified, as do the intermediary products produced in a plume. With the outlook for more wildfires in the future, especially in a changing climate—and with tighter health standards—understanding these processes will become more critical in the years to come.