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Modeling the Impact of Biomass Combustion on Atmospheric Aerosol


Rooney, Brigitte Lee (2020) Modeling the Impact of Biomass Combustion on Atmospheric Aerosol. Dissertation (Ph.D.), California Institute of Technology. doi:10.7907/adpa-0947.


Biomass burning is a significant source of atmospheric particulate matter less than 2.5 micrometers in diameter (PM2.5) and encompasses a variety of activities, fuels, and emissions profiles. A significant portion of the world population relies on solid biofuels for cooking and other household activities. Residential use of solid biofuels can have negative impacts on human health, particularly in southeast Asia, and contribute to ambient air quality. In addition, wildfires are of increasing concern as climate changes and human activity expands further into the wildland-urban interface. Understanding the contributions of biomass combustion to air quality is critical for creating mitigation strategies.

In this work, the impact of biomass burning on air quality is examined using numerical and observational methods. The Community Multiscale Air Quality modeling system (CMAQ) and the Weather Research and Forecasting model coupled with Chemistry (WRF-Chem) are used to study two biomass burning scenarios: the combustion of solid biofuels for cooking in rural India and the November 2018 Camp Fire in northern California. Model simulations are combined with surface and satellite observational data to evaluate their performance as well as their applicability to health and economic impact assessment studies. Additionally, discrepancies in methods used in laboratory experiments and field studies of cookstove emissions are investigated. Contributions of cookstove and wildfire emissions to PM2.5 are estimated, and climate and health co-benefits of residential solid biofuel use is assessed. This thesis strives to expand the current understanding of sources of PM2.5 and provide a base for future computational studies of biomass burning impacts on air quality, climate, and human health.

Item Type:Thesis (Dissertation (Ph.D.))
Subject Keywords:aerosol; secondary organic aerosol; particulate matter; biomass burning; atmospheric chemistry; air quality, air quality modeling; chemical transport modeling; wildfire; cookstove;
Degree Grantor:California Institute of Technology
Division:Geological and Planetary Sciences
Major Option:Environmental Science and Engineering
Thesis Availability:Public (worldwide access)
Research Advisor(s):
  • Seinfeld, John H.
Thesis Committee:
  • Wennberg, Paul O. (chair)
  • Seinfeld, John H.
  • Flagan, Richard C.
  • Wang, Yuan
Defense Date:29 May 2020
Non-Caltech Author Email:brigittelrooney (AT)
Record Number:CaltechTHESIS:06012020-155204817
Persistent URL:
Related URLs:
URLURL TypeDescription adapted for ch.2
Rooney, Brigitte Lee0000-0002-9725-9080
Default Usage Policy:No commercial reproduction, distribution, display or performance rights in this work are provided.
ID Code:13763
Deposited By: Brigitte Rooney
Deposited On:03 Jun 2020 22:08
Last Modified:26 May 2021 05:08

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