Photo of Yongqiang Liu

Yongqiang Liu

Research Meteorologist / Leader, Atmospheric Science Team
320 Green Street
Athens, GA 30602-2044
Phone: 706-559-4240
Fax: 706-559-4317

Current Research

Mega-fires under Changing Climate and Fuel This study, funded by the Joint Fire Science Program (JFSP), is to identify present and project future mega-fires and evaluate their air quality impacts. The research objectives include: (1) To build mega-fire probability functions and atmospheric pattern thresholds for mega-fire breakout. (2) To project areas and seasons of future mega-fires. The fire probability together with the atmospheric patterns will be major tools for future mega-fire projection. (3) To obtain present fuel loading and project future trends. Present fuel conditions are obtained from the FCCS with their seasonal variation specifications based on simulated carbon pools. (4) To simulate smoke transport from present and future mega-fires. (5) To evaluate the smoke impacts on air quality. Ground PM2.5 and ozone concentrations are analyzed to identify major large U.S. urban areas where air quality and human health are most likely threatened by future mega-fires.

Climate Change Adaptation and Mitigation Management Options (CCAMMO) CCAMMO is an SRS cross station climate change project. The goal of this project is to provide land management options that buffer the effects of future climatic conditions on a variety of ecosystem services to land managers, who are faced with the challenge of how to manage today's forests to adapt to and mitigate the impacts of future climate change. The CCAMMO project analyzes relationships among management practices, assesses risks and values of the southern forest ecosystem under changing climate, and develops various management options for mitigation and adaptation. The research and synthesis results will be presented in a book. The objectives of related research with the fire team include: (1) proejcting wildfire risk under changing cliamte in the South, (2) understanding interactions with other ecosystem processes, and (3) providing management options to mitigate the impacts of potnatially incerased wildfire activity.

Wildland Fire Greenhouse Gas/Black Carbon (GHG/BC) Synthesis Project An FS R&D Core Team initiated an effort in summer of 2010 to review what is known about GHG/BC emissions from wildland fires across all biomes in the United States. This project was tasked by the Research Deputy Director/Assistant Director Group to produce a synthesis report focusing on synthesizing published information on GHG/BC emissions from wildland fires. It will answer questions concerning the extent, magnitude, and potential climate-driven acceleration of global fire emissions that are receiving heightened attention. Since many of our future fire management options in the United States will be impacted by answers to these questions, we need to synthesize the most current scientific information concerning fire emissions and identify future research needs.

Research Interests

My research is focused on climate-forest ecosystem interactions. It is aimed at understanding forest disturbances (wildfire, land cover change, and forest water stress), their interactions with climate variability and climate change, and the environmental consequences. The combined approach of field measurements, numerical modeing, and theoretical and statistical analyses is used to investigate the processes, mechanisms, and impascts of the disturbances and to develop evaluation and prediction techniques. This research is expected to help strategy development and implementation to reduce forest vulnerability to forest disturbances and their adverse environmental impacts.

Past Research

Evaluation and improvement of smoke plume rise models

Smoke plume rise, also called plume height, is the height where the smoke particles can reach after they are ejected from wildland fires. It ranges from tens of meters for prescribed fires to thousands of meters for wildfires. Plume height is an important factor for local and regional air quality modeling. Fire emissions, if injected into higher elevations, are likely to be transported out of the rural burn site by prevailing winds and therefore possibly affect air quality nearby and remote populated urban areas in downwind direction. Plume rise is a parameter required by many regional air quality models.

Efforts have been made recently that led to the developments of a number of smoke plume models with various levels of complexity. Smoke plume height model evaluation, however, has been a big challenge because of the lack in smoke measurements. This makes it difficult to understand the performance and uncertainties of smoke models. Fire and smoke model validation is one of the fundamental research issues in the Smoke Science Plan, prepared for the U.S. Joint Fire Science Program (JFSP).

The study, funded by JFSP, is to evaluate and improve the performance of Daysmoke, a plume rise model, and to understand the significance for smoke and air quality modeling of prescribed burning. A combined approach of field measurement, numerical modeling, and dynamical and statistical analysis is used to obtain data, conduct simulation and evaluation, and improve the model. The research products include datasets of smoke measurements, case and statistical evaluation results of Daysmoke and other plume rise models, and GIS supported Daysmoke. These products are expected to provide fire and air quality managers and modelers with quantitative information and tools for understanding the accuracy, limits, and uncertainty in plume rise calculation of prescribed burning, and their impacts on simulation and prediction of smoke transport and air quality effects.


Ph.D. in Atmospheric Dynamics, 1990
Institute of Atmospheric Physics, Chinese Academy of Sciences
M.S. in Climatology, 1986
Chinese Academy of Meteorological Sciences, Beijing, China
B.S. in Meteorology, 1982
Nanjing Institute of Meteorology, Nanjing, China

Professional Experience

Adjunct Faculty, College of Sciences and Arts, George Mason University, Fairfax, VA
Adjunct Professor, School of Earth and Atmospheric Science, Georgia Institute of Technology
Research Meteorogist, Center for Forest Disturbance Science, USDA Forest Service
Senior Research Scientist, College of Sciences and Arts, George Mason University, Fairfax, VA
Assistant Research Professor, Department of Environmental Science, Rutgers University, New Brunsvick, NJ
PostDoc, Department of Meteorology and Physical Oceanography, Rutgers University, New Brunsvick, NJ
Visiting Scholar, National Center for Atmospheric Research, Boulder, CO
Assistant Research Scientist, Chinese Academy of Meteorological Sciences, Beijing, China
Graduate Research Assistant, Institute of Atmospheric Physics, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing, China
Research Assistant / Graduate Research Assistant, Chinese Academy of Meteorological Sciences, Beijing, China

Featured Publications and Products


Research Highlights

Fire and smoke modeling issues, gaps, and measurement data needs for developing next-generation operational smoke prediction models (2017)
SRS-2017-166 Smoke from wildland fires is a major natural hazard to air quality and human health. Providing complete and accurate smoke information is essential to prevent and reduce the impacts of such hazards. This study is an effort to develop the next-generation smoke prediction system to improve smoke prediction skills.

Global Wildfire Potential (2010)
SRS-2010-001 SRS scientists are measuring fire potential using the Keetch-Byram Drought Index. The Index is calculated for present climate conditions through observed maximum temperatures and precipitation, and for future climate conditions through projected end-of-the-century changes projected by general circulation models.SRS scientists are measuring fire potential using the Keetch-Byram Drought Index. The Index is calculated for present climate conditions through observed maximum temperatures and precipitation, and for future climate conditions through projected end-of-the-century changes projected by general circulation models.

Wildfire in the United States: Future Trends and Potential (2012)
SRS-2012-17 Climate models project warming and increased droughts this century in the continental United States, so wildfire is likely to increase accordingly

R&D Affiliations
Research Topics
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SRS Science Area
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