Wildfires and prescribed (i.e., controlled) fires are major sources of air pollution, greenhouse gases, and aerosols. In the southeastern US, prescribed fires are used extensively for agriculture, silviculture, conservation, and wildfire mitigation. In Florida, about 8% of the land area burns every year. Although widespread, these prescribed fires are rarely in the news because most are small and they occur when weather conditions allow safe burning and minimize impact on sensitive locations, like road, schools, hospitals, and cities.
Fuel consumption by fires (1997-2015 mean), showing the high concentration of fires in the southeastern US. Data from GFED4.
We are using satellite observations and government records to better estimate fire emissions and their impact on air quality and the environment.