Couto, F. T., J.-B. Filippi, R. Baggio, C. Campos, and R. Salgado, Numerical investigation of the Pedrógão Grande pyrocumulonimbus using a fire to atmosphere coupled model, Atmos. Res., 299, 107223, 2024. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.atmosres.2024.107223
Understanding the development of fire-generated thunderstorms in mega fire events is important given their high impact on the evolution of the fire fronts, where the fire spread becomes highly unpredictable and difficult to suppress. This study aims to investigate numerically the influence of strong pyro-convective activity on the local atmospheric conditions by means of a numerical simulation based on the coupled Meso-NH/ForeFire code. To our knowledge, it is the first time that the effect of wildfire spread on the local atmospheric conditions is accounted explicitly in a high-resolution NWP model to investigate pyro-convection activity. More specifically, we study numerically the Portuguese Pedrógão Grande mega fire, which was one of the most destructive and deadliest wildfire hazards affecting the Mediterranean region in the recent years. The spatio-temporal propagation of the wildfire was assigned a priori on the basis of the official investigation’s reports, while the impact of the forced fire evolution and of the ensuing heat and water vapour emissions on the local atmospheric conditions is accounted explicitly. The simulation, configured with very-high spatial and temporal resolutions, was capable of resolving the intense convective column reaching the upper troposphere and the fast development of the associated cloud system. The numerical fire produced intense updraughts with vertical velocities above 15 m/s, whereas the associated pyroCb cloud was composed by five different hydrometeor species along the main convective column and reached an altitude of 10 km. It is remarkable that the numerical experiment reproduced phenomena occurring at a fine scale related to cloud microphysics, such as very-localized outflows. This study, based on a coupled numerical simulation, was capable of illustrating in detail the development of a pyroCb cloud from strong pyro-convective activity.