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Satellite-observed pollution from Southern Hemisphere biomass burning

Edwards, D., L. Emmons, J. Gille, D. A. Chu, J. -. Attié, L. Giglio, S. W. Wood, J. Haywood, M. Deeter, S. Massie, D. C. Ziskin, and J. Drummond (2006), Satellite-observed pollution from Southern Hemisphere biomass burning, J. Geophys. Res., 111, D14312, doi:10.1029/2005JD006655.

Biomass burning is a major source of pollution in the tropical Southern Hemisphere, and fine mode carbonaceous particles are produced by the same combustion processes that emit carbon monoxide (CO). In this paper we examine these emissions with data from the Terra satellite, CO profiles from the Measurement of Pollution in the Troposphere (MOPITT) instrument, and fine-mode aerosol optical depth (AOD) from the ModerateResolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS). The satellite measurements are used in conjunction with calculations from the MOZART chemical transport model to examine the 2003 Southern Hemisphere burning season with particular emphasis on the months of peak fire activity in September and October. Pollutant emissions follow the occurrence of dry season fires, and the temporal variation and spatial distributions of MOPITT CO and MODIS AOD are similar. We examine the outflow from Africa and South America with emphasis on the impact of these emissions on clean remote regions. We present comparisons of MOPITT observations and ground-based interferometer data from Lauder, New Zealand, which indicate that intercontinental transport of biomass burning pollution from Africa often determines the local air quality. The correlation between enhancements of AOD and CO column for distinct biomass burning plumes is very good with correlation coefficients greater than 0.8. We present a method using MOPITT and MODIS data for estimating the emission ratio of aerosol number density to CO concentration which could prove useful as input to modeling studies. We also investigate decay of plumes from African fires following export into the Indian Ocean and compare the MOPITT and MODIS measurements as a way of estimating the regional aerosol lifetime. Vertical transport of biomass burning emissions is also examined using CO profile information. Low-altitude concentrations are very high close to source regions, but further downwind of the continents, vertical mixing takes place and results in more even CO vertical distributions. In regions of significant convection, particularly in the equatorial Indian Ocean, the CO mixing ratio is greater at higher altitudes, indicating vertical transport of biomass burning emissions to the upper troposphere.

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Research Program: 
Tropospheric Composition Program (TCP)