Date of Award
Master of Science (MS)
Atmospheric and Earth Science
Wildfires--Forecasting, Lightning, Atmospheric aerosols
This study examines two events from August 2020 in California: August 16 and August 24. Both days were forecast to have large lightning-initiated wildfire potential. Herein, environmental, satellite, radar, and lightning characteristics of the atmosphere have been assessed to determine why one event was such a prolific producer of lightning-initiated wildfire and the other was not. Notable differences in the vertical structures of thunderstorms were present, particularly in the mixed-phase region where shallower mixed-phase depths and smaller ice masses were present on August 24th. This study suggests that it is physically plausible that aerosol load from prior fires contributed to weaker mixed-phase regions in thunderstorms; however, some thermodynamic differences, particularly in convective available potential energy and deep moisture, were present and must be considered in addition to aerosol information. This study suggests there is potential utility in considering aerosol concentration and depth while forecasting fire potential.
Lybrand, Sydney, "An atmospheric investigation of California's August 2020 lightning-initiated wildfire events" (2023). Theses. 456.