Air Quality, Atmosphere & Health

, Volume 6, Issue 1, pp 277–294 | Cite as

The effect of forest fires in emissions of biogenic volatile organic compounds and windblown dust over urban areas

  • Victoria Aleksandropoulou
  • Kjetil Torseth
  • Mihalis Lazaridis


This study examines the impact of forest fires on natural biogenic volatile organic compounds (BVOCs) and windblown dust emissions over urban areas; specifically over the Athens larger urban zone for the reference year 2008. The area spans a continuum of urban–suburban–wild lands and suffers air quality problems with respect to particulate matter (PM) which are frequently exacerbated during the summer due also to forest fire events. Although the anthropogenic, natural and forest fire emissions in the area have been well documented in the past, the indirect effect of forest fires on natural emissions has not been estimated. A brief description of the area and the history of forest fires events during the period 2000–2008 are presented together with an emission inventory for particulate matter (PM2.5 and PM2.5–10) and non-methane VOC (NMVOC), precursor to PM, from anthropogenic and natural sources for the reference year 2008. The effect of large forest fires (over 40 ha) during the period 2000–2008 on natural emissions is examined with respect also to the spatial and temporal distribution and their relative contribution to total emissions over the area. Moreover, the effect of several parameters and assumptions used in natural emissions calculations pre and post-fire events is discussed. The results indicate that there is a trade-off between fire effects that can result in an increase in PM10 windblown dust emissions but decrease of BVOCs emissions due to vegetation reduction. The changes in natural BVOCs and PM10 emissions over the selected area are rather small, specifically 3.5% and 1.7%, respectively. Changes in the relative contribution of natural to total PM10 and NMVOC emissions in the area due to forest fires was also found small, approximately 0.5% and 0.7%, respectively. The contribution of anthropogenic emissions appears to dramatically outweigh the potential effects on air quality from natural emissions and their changes due to large forest fires. Therefore, more attention should be given to mitigating the anthropogenic emissions in the area for the purposes of promoting air quality.


Forest fires Emission inventory Windblown dust BVOCs 


  1. Aleksandropoulou V, Lazaridis M (2004) Spatial distribution of gaseous and particulate matter emissions in Greece. Water Air Soil Pollut 153:15–34CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Aleksandropoulou V, Torseth K, Lazaridis M (2011) Atmospheric emission inventory for natural and anthropogenic sources and spatial emission mapping for the Greater Athens area. Water Air Soil Pollut 219:507–526CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Aleksandropoulou V, Eleftheriadis K, Diapouli E, Torseth K, Lazaridis M (2012) Assessing PM10 source reduction in urban agglomerations for air quality compliance. J Environ Monit 14(1):266–278CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Alfaro SC, Gomes L (2001) Modeling mineral aerosol production by wind erosion: emission intensities and aerosol size distributions in source areas. J Geophys Res 106(D16):18075–18084CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Amiridis V, Zerefos C, Kazadzis S, Gerasopoulos E, Eleftheratos K, Vrekoussis M, Stohl A, Mamouri RE, Kokkalis P, Papayannis A, Eleftheriadis K, Diapouli E, Keramitsoglou I, Kontoes C, Kotroni V, Lagouvardos K, Marinou E, Giannakaki E, Kostopoulou E, Giannakopoulos C, Richter A, Burrows JP, Mihalopoulos N (2011) Impact of the 2009 Attica wild fires on the air quality in urban Athens. Atmos Environ. doi:10.1016/j.atmosenv.2011.07.056
  6. Arianoutsou M, Kazanis D, Kokkoris Y, Skourou P (2002) Land-use interactions with fire in Mediterranean Pinus halepensis landscapes of Greece: patterns of biodiversity. In: Viegas DX (ed) Forest fire research and wildland fire safety. Millpress, RotterdamGoogle Scholar
  7. Athanasopoulou E, Tombrou M, Russell AG, Karanasiou A, Eleftheriadis K, Dandou A (2010) Implementation of road and soil dust emission parameterizations in the aerosol model CAMx: applications over the greater Athens urban area affected by natural sources. J Geophys Res 115:D17301CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Boschetti L, Roy D, Barbosa P, Boca R, Justice C (2008) A MODIS assessment of the summer 2007 extent burned in Greece. Int J Remote Sens 29:2433–2436CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Breshears DD, Whicker JJ, Zou CB, Field JP, Allen CD (2009) A conceptual framework for dryland aeolian sediment transport along the grassland–forest continuum: effects of woody plant canopy cover and disturbance. Geomorphology 105:28–38CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Brown JK, Smith JK (eds) (2000) Wildland fire in ecosystems: effects of fire on flora. Gen Tech Rep RMRS-GTR-42-vol. 2. Ogden, UT: US Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research StationGoogle Scholar
  11. CEC (1985) Soil map of the European Communities, 1:1,000,000. Office for Official Publications of the European Communities, LuxembourgGoogle Scholar
  12. Certini G (2005) Effects of fire on properties of forest soils: a review. Oecologia 143:1–10CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Chaloulakou A, Kassomenos P, Spyrellis N, Demokritou P, Koutrakis P (2003) Measurements of PM10 and PM2.5 particle concentrations in Athens, Greece. Atmos Environ 37:649–660CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Choi YJ, Fernando HJS (2008) Implementation of a windblown dust parameterization into MODELS-3/CMAQ: application to episodic PM events in the US/Mexico border. Atmos Environ 42:6039–6046CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. DeBano LF, Neary DG, Folliott PF (1998) Fire effects on ecosystems. Wiley, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  16. Dockery DW, Pope CA, Xu X, Spengler JD, Ware JH, Fay ME, Ferris BG, Speizer FA (1993) An association between air pollution and mortality in six U.S. cities. New Engl J Med 329:1753–1759CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Draxler RR, Gillette DA, Kirkpatrick JS, Heller J (2001) Estimating PM10 air concentrations from dust storms in Iraq, Kuwait and Saudi Arabia. Atmos Environ 35:4315–4330CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. EEA CLC2000 (2009) Corine land cover 2000 (CLC2000) 100 m - version 12/2009 (2009). Accessed 16 Aug 2011
  19. EFFIS. European Forest Fire Information System. Accessed 21 Oct 2011
  20. EMEP/CLRTAP (2010) Emission used in EMEP models from Greece during 2008. EMEP Centre on Emission Inventories and Projections (CEIP). Accessed 21 Oct 2011
  21. EMEP/CORINAIR (2007) EMEP/CORINAIR Atmospheric emission inventory guidebook—2007. EEA Technical Report 16/2007. Accessed 21 Oct 2011
  22. EMEP/MSC-W (2011) The EMEP/MSC-W Model - User’s Guide. Accessed 21 Oct 2011
  23. ESDB v2.0 (2004) The European Soil Database Distribution version 2.0. European Commission and the European Soil Bureau Network. EUR 19945 ENGoogle Scholar
  24. EUROSTAT (2004) Urban audit-methodological handbook. Office for Official Publications of the European Communities, LuxembourgGoogle Scholar
  25. FAO–UNESCO (1974) FAO–UNESCO soil map of the world. Volume I: legend. UNESCO, ParisGoogle Scholar
  26. Fox D, Berolo W, Carrega P, Darboux F (2006) Mapping erosion risk and selecting sites for simple erosion control measures after a forest fire in Mediterranean France. Earth Surf Proc Land 31:606–621CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Gillette DA, Passi R (1988) Modelling dust emission caused by wind erosion. J Geophys Res 93:14233–14242CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Ginoux P, Chin M, Tegen I, Prospero JM, Holben B, Dubovik O, Lin S (2001) Sources and distributions of dust aerosols simulated with the GOCART model. J Geophys Res 106(D17):20255–20273CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Grell G, Dudhia J, Stauffer DR (1994) A description of the fifth generation Penn State/NCAR mesoscale model (MM5). NCAR Tech. Note NCAR/TN-398+STR. Boulder: National Center for Atmospheric ResearchGoogle Scholar
  30. Grivas G, Chaloulakou A, Samara C, Spyrellis N (2004) Spatial and temporal variation of PM10 mass concentrations within the Greater Area of Athens, Greece. Water Air Soil Pollut 158:357–371CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Grivas G, Chaloulakou A, Kassomenos P (2008) An overview of the PM10 pollution problem in the Metropolitan Area of Athens, Greece. Assessment of controlling factors and potential impact of long range transport. Sci Total Environ 389:165–177CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Guenther A, Monson R, Fall R (1991) Isoprene and monoterpene emission rate variability: observations with eucalyptus and emission rate algorithm development. J Geophys Res 96:10799–10808CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Guenther A, Karl T, Harley P, Wiedinmyer C, Palmer PI, Geron C (2006) Estimates of global terrestrial isoprene emissions using MEGAN (Model of Emissions of Gases and Aerosols from Nature). Atmos Chem Phys 6:3181–3210CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Hellenic Ministry for the Environment, Physical Planning and Public Works (2007) Air pollution in Athens for 2006. Hellenic Ministry for the Environment, Physical Planning and Public WorksGoogle Scholar
  35. Karl M, Guenther A, Köble R, Leip A, Seufert G (2009) A new European plant-specific emission inventory of biogenic volatile organic compounds for use in atmospheric transport models. Biogeosciences 6:1059–1087CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Katsouyanni K, Schwartz J, Spix C, Touloumi G, Zmirou D, Zanobetti A, Wojtyniak B, Vonk JM, Tobias A, Ponka A, Medina S, Bacharova L, Anderson HR (1996) Short-term effects of air pollution on health: a European approach using epidemiologic time series data: the APHEA protocol. J Epidemiol Commun H 50:S12–S18CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Katsouyanni K, Touloumi G, Samoli E, Gryparis A, Le Tatre A, Monopolis Y, Rossi G, Zmirou D, Ballester F, Boumghar A, Anderson H, Wojtyniak B, Paldy A, Barunstein R, Pekkanen J, Schnidler C, Schwartz J (2001) Confounding effect modification in the short-term effects of ambient particles on total mortality: results from 29 European cities within the APHEA 2 project. Epidemiology 12:521–531CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Kazanis D, Arianoutsou M (2002) Long term postfire dynamics of Pinus halepensis forests of central Greece: plant community patterns. In: Book of Abstracts of the 4th International conference on Forest Fire research. Luso, Portugal, 18–23 NovemberGoogle Scholar
  39. Köble R, Barbosa P, Seufert G (2007) Estimating emissions from vegetation fires in Europe. Accessed 21 Oct 2011
  40. Korcz M, Fudala J, Klis C (2009) Estimation of wind blown dust emissions in Europe and its vicinity. Atmos Environ 43(7):1410–1420CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Lavender KA (1999) Marine exhaust emissions, quantification study—Mediterranean Sea. Final Report 99/EE/7044. Lloyds Register of ShippingGoogle Scholar
  42. Lazaridis M, Latos M, Aleksandropoulou V, Hov Ø, Papayannis A, Tørseth K (2008) Contribution of forest fire emissions to atmospheric pollution in Greece. Air Qual Atmos Health 1:143–158CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. Liodakis S, Kakardakis T (2008) Measuring the relative particle foliar combustibility of WUI forest species located near Athens. J Therm Anal Calorim 93(2):627–635CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. Liu M, Westphal DL (2001) A study of the sensitivity of simulated mineral dust production to model resolution. J Geophys Res 106:18099–18112CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Liu Y, Kahn RA, Chaloulakou A, Koutrakis P (2009) Analysis of the impact of the forest fires in August 2007 on air quality of Athens using multi-sensor aerosol remote sensing data, meteorology and surface observations. Atmos Environ 43(21):3310–3318CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. Mansell G, Wolf M, Gillies J, Barnard W, Omary M (2004) Final report: determining fugitive dust emissions from wind erosion. Prepared for Western Governors’ Association (WRAP) by ENVIRON International CorporationGoogle Scholar
  47. Markakis K, Poupkou A, Melas D, Tzoumaka P, Petrakakis M (2010) A computational approach based on GIS technology for the development of an anthropogenic emission inventory of gaseous pollutants in Greece. Water Air Soil Pollut 207(1):157–180CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  48. Marticorena B, Bergametti G, Gillette D, Belnap J (1997) Factors controlling threshold friction velocity in semiarid and arid areas of the United States. J Geophys Res 102:23277–23287CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  49. Melas D, Kioutsioukis I, Lazaridis M (2005) The impact of sea breeze on air quality in Athens. In: Farago I et al (eds) Advances of air pollution modelling for environmental security. Springer, Dordrecht, pp 285–296CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  50. Moriondo M, Good P, Durao R, Bindi M, Giannakopoulos C, Corte-Real J (2006) Potential impact of climate change on fire risk in the Mediterranean area. Climate Res 31:85–95CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  51. Müller JF, Stavrakou T, Wallens S, De Smedt I, Van Roozendael M, Potosnak MJ, Rinne J, Munger B, Goldstein A, Guenther AB (2008) Global isoprene emissions estimated using MEGAN, ECMWF analyses and a detailed canopy environment model. Atmos Chem Phys 8:1329–1341CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  52. Neary DG, Ryan KC, DeBano LF (eds) 2005 (revised 2008) Wildland fire in ecosystems: effects of fire on soils and water. Gen Tech Rep RMRS-GTR-42-vol.4. Ogden, UT: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research StationGoogle Scholar
  53. Nickovic S, Dobricic S (1996) A model for long-range transport of desert dust. Mon Weather Rev 124:2537–2544CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  54. Park S, In H (2003) Parameterization of dust emission for the simulation of the yellow sand (Asian dust) event observed in March 2002 in Korea. J Geophys Res 108(D19):4618CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  55. Pierce T, Lamb B, van Meter A (1990) Development of a biogenic emissions inventory system for regional scale air pollution models. Proceedings of the 83rd Air and Waste Management Association Annual MeetingGoogle Scholar
  56. Pope CA, Thun MJ, Namboodiri MM, Dockery DW, Evans JS, Speizer FE, Heath DW Jr (1995) Particulate air pollution as a predictor of mortality in a prospective study of US adults. Am J Respir Crit Care Med 151:669–674Google Scholar
  57. Pope CA, Burnett RT, Thun MJ, Calle EE, Krewski D, Ito K, Thurston GD (2002) Lung cancer, cardio-pulmonary mortality and long-term exposure to fine particulate air pollution. J Am Med Assoc 287(9):1132–1141CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  58. Poupkou A, Symeonidis P, Ziomas I, Melas D, Markakis K (2007) A spatially and temporally disaggregated anthropogenic emission inventory in the southern Balkan region. Water Air Soil Pollut 185(1–4):335–348CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  59. Prandtl L (1935) Aerodynamic theory vol. III. In: Durand F (ed) Springer, Berlin. pp 57–100Google Scholar
  60. Prospero JM, Lamb PJ (2003) African droughts and dust transport to the Caribbean: climate change implication. Science 302:1024–1027.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  61. Ravi S, D’Ordorico P, Herbert B, Zobeck T, Over T (2006) Enhancement of wind erosion by fire-induced water repellency. Water Resour Res 42:W11422CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  62. Ravi S, D’Odorico P, Zobeck TM, Over TM, Collins SL (2007) Feedbacks between fires and wind erosion in heterogeneous arid lands. J Geophys Res 112:G04007CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  63. Ravi S, D’Odorico P, Wang L, White CS, Okin GS, Macko SA, Collins SL (2009a) Post-fire resource redistribution in desert grasslands: a possible negative feedback on land degradation. Ecosystems 12:434–444CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  64. Ravi S, D’Odorico P, Zobeck TM, Over TM (2009b) The effect of fire-induced soil hydrophobicity on wind erosion in a semiarid grassland: experimental observations and theoretical framework. Geomorphology 105:80–86CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  65. Sankey JB, Germino MJ, Glenn NF (2009a) Aeolian sediment transport following wildfire in sagebrush steppe. J Arid Environ 73:912–919CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  66. Sankey JB, Germino MJ, Glenn NF (2009b) Relationships of post-fire aeolian transport to soil and atmospheric conditions. Aeolian Res 1:75–85CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  67. Schar C, Vidale PL, Luthi D, Frei C, Haberli C, Liniger MA, Appenzeller C (2004) The role of increasing temperature variability in European summer heatwaves. Nature 427:332–336CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  68. Seinfeld JH, Pandis SN (1998) Atmospheric chemistry and physics: from air pollution to climate change. Wiley, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  69. Shao Y (2001) A model for mineral dust emission. J Geophys Res 106:20239–20254CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  70. Shaw WJ, Allwine KJ, Fritz BG, Rutz FC, Rishel JP, Chapman EG (2008) An evaluation of the wind erosion module in DUSTRAN. Atmos Environ 42:1907–1921CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  71. Spyridaki A, Aleksandropoulou V, Latos M, Flatoy F, Svendby TM, Lazaridis M (2007) Contribution of natural emissions to ambient aerosol concentration levels in the eastern Mediterranean. Abstracts of the European Aerosol Conference 2007, SalzburgGoogle Scholar
  72. Stavrakou T, Müller JF, De Smedt I, Van Roozendael M, van der Werf GR, Giglio L, Guenther A (2009) Evaluating the performance of pyrogenic and biogenic emission inventories against one decade of space-based formaldehyde columns. Atmos Chem Phys 9:1037–1060CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  73. Steinbrecher R, Smiatek G, Köble R, Seufert G, Theloke J, Hauff K, Ciccioli P, Vautard R, Curci G (2008) Intra- and inter- annual variability of VOC emissions from natural and semi-natural vegetation in Europe and neighbouring countries. Atmos Environ 43(7):1380–1391CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  74. Tao Z, Jain AK (2005) Modeling of global biogenic emissions for key indirect greenhouse gases and their response to atmospheric CO2 increases and changes in land cover and climate. J Geophys Res 110:D21309CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  75. Vermeire LT, Wester DB, Mitchell RB, Fuhlendorf SD (2005) Fire and grazing effects on wind erosion, soil water content, and soil temperature. J Environ Qual 34:1559–1565CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  76. Weinhold B (2011) Fields and forests in flames: vegetation smoke and human health. Environ Health Perspect 119:386–393CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  77. Westphal DL, Toon OB, Carlson TN (1987) A two-dimensional numerical investigation of the dynamics and microphysical of Saharan dust storms. J Geophys Res 92:3027–3049CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  78. Whicker JJ, Breshears DD, Wasiolek PT, Kirchner TB, Tavani RA, Schoep DA, Rodgers JC (2002) Temporal and spatial variation of episodic wind erosion in unburned and burned semiarid shrubland. J Environ Qual 31:599–612CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  79. Whicker JJ, Pinder JE, Breshears DD (2006) Increased wind erosion from forest wildfire: implications for contaminant-related risks. J Environ Qual 35:468–478CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  80. Wu S, Mickley LJ, Kaplan JO, Jacob DJ (2011) Impacts of changes in land use and land cover on atmospheric chemistry and air quality over the 21st century. Atmos Chem Phys Discuss 11:15469–15495CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  81. Yay OD, Poupkou A, Symeonidis P, Gkantou A, Melas D, Döğeroğlu T (2005) Biogenic emissions of volatile organic compounds from turkey. Proceeding of the Third International Symposium on Air Quality Management at Urban, regional and Global ScalesGoogle Scholar
  82. Zender CS, Bian H, Newman D (2003) The mineral Dust Entrainment and Deposition (DEAD) model: description and 1990s dust climatology. J Geophys Res 108(D14):4416. doi:10.1029/2002JD002775 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  83. Zobeck TM, Fryrear DW, Pettit RD (1989) Management effects on wind-eroded sediment and plant nutrients. J Soil Water Conservat 44:160–163Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • Victoria Aleksandropoulou
    • 1
  • Kjetil Torseth
    • 2
  • Mihalis Lazaridis
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Environmental EngineeringTechnical University of CreteChaniaGreece
  2. 2.Norwegian Institute for Air ResearchOsloNorway

Personalised recommendations