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Notable impact of wildfires in the western United States on weather hazards in the central United States

Zhang, Yuwei and Fan, Jiwen and Shrivastava, Manish and Homeyer, Cameron R. and Wang, Yuan and Seinfeld, John H. (2022) Notable impact of wildfires in the western United States on weather hazards in the central United States. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 119 (44). Art. No. e2207329119. ISSN 0027-8424. PMCID PMC9636965. doi:10.1073/pnas.2207329119.

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Increased wildfire events constitute a significant threat to life and property in the United States. Wildfire impact on severe storms and weather hazards is another pathway that threatens society, and our understanding of which is very limited. Here, we use unique modeling developments to explore the effects of wildfires in the western US (mainly California and Oregon) on precipitation and hail in the central US. We find that the western US wildfires notably increase the occurrences of heavy precipitation rates by 38% and significant severe hail (≥2 in.) by 34% in the central United States. Both heat and aerosols from wildfires play an important role. By enhancing surface high pressure and increasing westerly and southwesterly winds, wildfires in the western United States produce stronger moisture and aerosol transport to the central United States and larger wind shear and storm-relative helicity in the central United States. Both the meteorological environment more conducive to severe convective storms and increased aerosols contribute to the enhancements of heavy precipitation rates and large hail. Moreover, the local wildfires in the central US also enhance the severity of storms, but their impact is notably smaller than the impact of remote wildfires in California and Oregon because of the lessened severity of the local wildfires. As wildfires are projected to be more frequent and severe in a warmer climate, the influence of wildfires on severe weather in downwind regions may become increasingly important.

Item Type:Article
Related URLs:
URLURL TypeDescription CentralArticle
Zhang, Yuwei0000-0002-3260-6782
Fan, Jiwen0000-0001-5280-4391
Shrivastava, Manish0000-0002-9053-2400
Homeyer, Cameron R.0000-0002-4883-6670
Wang, Yuan0000-0001-6657-8401
Seinfeld, John H.0000-0003-1344-4068
Additional Information:This study is supported by the US Department of Energy (DOE) Office of Science Early Career Award Program (70017). We thank the resources of the National Energy Research Scientific Computing Center (NERSC). NERSC is a US DOE Office of Science User Facility operated under contract no. DE-AC02-05CH11231. Pablo Saide is thanked for providing scripts for producing QFED emissions. Y.W. and J.S. acknowledge support from the NSF grant AGS-2103714.
Funding AgencyGrant Number
Department of Energy (DOE)70017
Department of Energy (DOE)DE-AC02-05CH11231
Issue or Number:44
PubMed Central ID:PMC9636965
Record Number:CaltechAUTHORS:20230103-817548100.12
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Usage Policy:No commercial reproduction, distribution, display or performance rights in this work are provided.
ID Code:118618
Deposited By: Research Services Depository
Deposited On:26 Jan 2023 17:53
Last Modified:26 Jan 2023 17:56

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