Biomass burning in Asia: Annual and seasonal estimates and atmospheric emissions

Streets, D., K. F. Yarber, J.-H. Woo, and G. Carmichael (2003), Biomass burning in Asia: Annual and seasonal estimates and atmospheric emissions, Global Biogeochem. Cycles, 17, 1099, doi:10.1029/2003GB002040.

Estimates of biomass burning in Asia are developed to facilitate the modeling of Asian and global air quality. A survey of national, regional, and international publications on biomass burning is conducted to yield consensus estimates of ‘‘typical’’ (i.e., nonyear-specific) estimates of open burning (excluding biofuels). We conclude that 730 Tg of biomass are burned in a typical year from both anthropogenic and natural causes. Forest burning comprises 45% of the total, the burning of crop residues in the field comprises 34%, and 20% comes from the burning of grassland and savanna. China contributes 25% of the total, India 18%, Indonesia 13%, and Myanmar 8%. Regionally, forest burning in Southeast Asia dominates. National, annual totals are converted to daily and monthly estimates at 1° × 1° spatial resolution using distributions based on AVHRR fire counts for 1999–2000. Several adjustment schemes are applied to correct for the deficiencies of AVHRR data, including the use of moving averages, normalization, TOMS Aerosol Index, and masks for dust, clouds, landcover, and other fire sources. Good agreement between the national estimates of biomass burning and adjusted fire counts is obtained (R2 = 0.71–0.78). Biomass burning amounts are converted to atmospheric emissions, yielding the following estimates: 0.37 Tg of SO2, 2.8 Tg of NOx, 1100 Tg of CO2, 67 Tg of CO, 3.1 Tg of CH4, 12 Tg of NMVOC, 0.45 Tg of BC, 3.3 Tg of OC, and 0.92 Tg of NH3. Uncertainties in the emission estimates, measured as 95% confidence intervals, range from a low of ±65% for CO2 emissions in Japan to a high of ±700% for BC emissions in India.

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