Wildfires as a Source of Aerosol Particles Transported to the Northern European Regions

  • Sanna SaarikoskiEmail author
  • Risto Hillamo
Part of the The Handbook of Environmental Chemistry book series (HEC, volume 26)


Each year large areas of forested land in Europe are burned by more than 50,000 fires. Over the past few years, climatic anomalies in temperature and precipitation have resulted in an increase in fire events. The exceptional fire occurrences in the 2000s and their regional consequences on atmospheric air quality have been observed in the northern European regions. In the last 10 years almost annually the episodes of long-range transported (LRT) biomass smokes from Eastern European fires have been reported, exceptionally intense smoke plumes having been detected in 2002 and 2006. Typically, the smoke episodes occur in spring or/and late summer and they last for few days. As the particulate matter (PM) concentrations are generally quite low in Northern Europe, the LRT smoke plumes increase the PM concentrations in several folds even at the background sites with no local emissions. As a result, there are exceedances in the European Union PM daily limit values, which result in serious health problems. This chapter describes the episodes of wildfire particles observed in Northern Europe in the last 10 years. It discusses the chemical and physical properties of particles, the transformation during the transport as well as the methods to investigate the composition and source areas of smoke plumes.


Aerosols Chemical composition Long-range transport Wildfires 


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Finnish Meteorological InstituteHelsinkiFinland

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