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Transport of the smoke plume from Chiado’s fire in Lisbon (Portugal) sensed by atmospheric electric field measurements

Conceição, R., Melgão, M., Silva, H. G., Nicoll, K., Harrison, R. G. and Reis, A. H. (2016) Transport of the smoke plume from Chiado’s fire in Lisbon (Portugal) sensed by atmospheric electric field measurements. Air Quality, Atmosphere & Health, 9 (3). pp. 275-283. ISSN 1873-9318

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To link to this article DOI: 10.1007/s11869-015-0337-4


The Chiado’s fire that affected the city centre of Lisbon (Portugal) occurred on 25th August 1988 and had a significant human and environmental impact. This fire was considered the most significant hazard to have occurred in Lisbon city centre after the major earthquake of 1755. A clear signature of this fire is found in the atmospheric electric field data recorded at Portela meteorological station about 8 km NE from the site where the fire started at Chiado. Measurements were made using a Benndorf electrograph with a probe at 1 m height. The atmospheric electric field reached 510 V/m when the wind direction was coming from SW to NE, favourable to the transport of the smoke plume from Chiado to Portela. Such observations agree with predictions using Hysplit air mass trajectory modelling and have been used to estimate the smoke concentration to be ~0.4 mg/m3. It is demonstrated that atmospheric electric field measurements were therefore extremely sensitive to Chiado’s fire. This result is of particular current interest in using networks of atmospheric electric field sensors to complement existing optical and meteorological observations for fire monitoring.

Item Type:Article
Divisions:Faculty of Science > School of Mathematical, Physical and Computational Sciences > Department of Meteorology
ID Code:39871

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