Web-based data visualization system for biomass burning project



The UH Air Quality Forecasting Group was awarded a grant in early 2015 by the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) to investigate the impacts of biomass burning on air quality in Texas; in an effort to illustrate how significant non-anthropogenic sources such as wildfires could potentially affect State Implementation Plans (SIPs) for ozone attainment. The simulation episode included the summer ozone seasons (April-October) of 2012, 2013 and 2014 over the continental United States.


The impacts of biomass fires were investigated using the United States Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA)'s Community Multiscale Air Quality (CMAQ) model. This is a chemical transport model which simulates the processes of emission, reaction advection, turbulent diffusion and deposition in a given region broken up into multiple grid cells, as depicted in the schematic. For this study, biomass emissions were superimposed on the standard National Emissions Inventory of 2011 of the USEPA, and the impacts evaluated for ozone, carbon monoxide and fine particulate matter (PM2.5).

Future work

The study is being carried forward by conducting several additional important analyses, which will help in our understanding of fire impacts. These include the biomass impacts on speciated components of PM2.5 such as sulfate, nitrate, elemental and organic carbon. Additionally, we are looking at the effects of different plume rise height modeling approaches, and also working on a hybrid Eulerian-Lagrangian model that can improve computational efficiency for evaluating these impacts.

Query System for Results

A web-based data visualization system has been created as part of the project to view the simulation results. By specifying the starting and ending date of a given simulation episode, the user can view the modeled contour maps and time series of the biomass-burning and non-biomass cases superimposed on the observational data.

The query system works by specifying a number of parameters, which include:
        Species: ozone (O3), carbon monoxide (CO), and fine particulate matter (PM2.5);
        Year: choose among 2012, 2013, and 2014;
        Month: April to October;
        Bounding Region: any customized area bounded by latitude and longitude;
        Time Period: any episode between selected starting date and ending date.

By selecting the pollutant components, year and month of study, a colored contour plot of biomass burning impact will appear to show the hotspots caused by fire events. Next, the user chooses the boundary and time period on the plot. By submitting the aforementioned information, time-series of biomass-burning and non-biomass burning case will be calculated. The modeling data is also superimposed on the observations available in the selected boundary for comparison.

Biomass burning impact on ozone concentration




Biomass burning impact on concentration of other species