FORT COLLINS, Colo. (CBS4) – Researchers in Colorado are set to embark on the first large-scale study of how smoke from wildfires in the West impacts our environment.

Colorado State University and the University of Colorado Boulder are two of the five universities involved in the study, which is backed by a $3.8 million federal grant from the National Science Foundation.

Smoke billows at sunrise from part of the Waldo Canyon fire on June 30, 2012 in Colorado Springs. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

In the summer of 2018 a plane from the Boulder-based National Center For Atmospheric Research will fly over areas where there’s heavy wildfire smoke and collect data.

“We’ll fly as close to active fires as can be safely done and follow the plumes downwind,” said Emily Fischer, an assistant professor in CSU’s Department of Atmospheric Science, in a prepared statement.

According to CSU, a main goal of the study is to answer the following questions:

– What is the composition of the smoke from wildfires in Colorado and other western states?

– How much does wildfire smoke matter for air quality?

– What happens when smoke and clouds interact, and is that important for understanding weather?

The Environmental Protection Agency will also likely be involved in the study to possibly “develop and test their air quality models.”

Wildfire Resources

– Visit’s Living With Wildfire section.

Wildfire Photo Galleries

– See images from the most destructive wildfires (Black Forest, Waldo Canyon, High Park and Fourmile), the deadliest (Storm King) and largest wildfire (Hayman) in Colorado history.