Emissions from wildfires (WF) are major contributors to the global budget of ambient particulate matter (PM) affecting air quality, absorbing and scattering incoming radiation, forming haze and clouds. Due to climate change (CC) wildfires in many regions become a serious problem. Together with thawing permafrost, the increased incidence of wildfires, in particular also in Siberia, is becoming a self-reinforcement component of CC. Furthermore, several adverse health effects of wildfire emissions are discussed, including induction of diseases via inflammatory and gene-toxic pathways. By using the world largest aerosol aging chamber (LAC) in Tomsk, Russia, the expertise to simulate wildfires, and the aging of the emitted aerosols, it will be possible to collect sufficient mass of fresh and aged PM to study biological effects of fine particles which also can reveal the physicochemical parameters responsible for the adverse effects.
Aim of the project
Great variety of gas-aerosol processes and multicomponent smoke characteristics evolving in wildfire plumes and their numerous dangerous impacts on environment and health concerns to one of the most complicated problems of fundamental research. Scientific questions are related to simulation of combustion at the conditions of real-world environment, realistic aging of emitted aerosols, as well as aerosol characterization, and its biological effects. In this project, the effects of aging of wildfire emission plumes on the chemical composition, microphysical properties, and toxicological effects on human lung cells are investigated. For this purpose, wildfires are simulated according to existing procedures in the world’s largest aerosol aging chamber. The emissions are aged under dark and light conditions, to simulate day- and nighttime, and tracked by on-line analytical methods. The large volume of the LAC chamber of 1800 m3 allows collecting sufficient amounts of aged wildfire PM2.5 for combined thorough chemical, microphysical and toxicological investigations (Popovicheva et al., 2016). The project consortium will address the following hypotheses: (I) the phase of biomass combustion, open flaming or smoldering, significantly affects the PM composition and the health relevance. (II) Although peat fires will increase largely due to climate change, nearly nothing is known about composition, aging, and health effects of peat fire emissions. Likely, the higher maturity of peat compared to biomass alters the balance of oxidizing and anti-oxidative compounds in peat fire PM2.5 with respect to forest fires. This will have an impact on the observed biological/health outcomes: The type of fuel (peat/biomass) controls the PM composition and the health relevance. (III) With aging and type of aging, depending on aging time and type of biomass burning, the related PM2.5 might be toxified or de-toxified. (IV) The balance on oxidative-acting and anti-oxidative compounds is important for relevant toxicological and allergological endpoints, but affected during atmospheric aging. In spring 2020, the LAC was setup with UV-lamps for the photochemical aerosol aging experiments. The LAC will be first evaluated with non-volatile model aerosol, secondary organic aerosol (SOA) precursors under various photochemical conditions, and NOx photolysis rates to assess wall losses, SOA yields, and finally its comparability to other established environmental chambers.
- University of Rostock, Institute of Chemistry, Chair of Analytical Chemistry
- Technical University Munich
- Moscow State University
- V. E. Zuev Institute of Atmospheric Optics (IAO), Tomsk, Russia
Co-funded by the DFG and RFBR (ZI 764/24-1).
Project realization at University Rostock
Dr. Christopher Rüger
University of Rostock
Institute of Chemistry
Division of Analytical and Technical Chemistry
Department Life Light & Matter
Dr. Christopher Rüger
18059 Rostock (Germany)
Tel.: +49 (0) 381 498 - 8990