MODELING OF SEASONAL TRACE GAS AND PARTICULATE EMISSIONS FROM VEGETATION FIRES IN SOUTHERN AFRICA

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Date
2004-04-29
Authors
Korontzi, Stefania
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Justice, Christopher O
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Abstract
Fire is widespread in southern African savannas with important implications for tropical and global atmospheric chemistry. However, previous regional emission studies have not fully accounted for the variability of the emissions throughout the burning season and the associated impacts on emissions quantification. The main aim of this study is to address this gap. The complexity of the emissions process is described using a spatially and temporally explicit modeling approach that integrates recently published satellite-driven fuel load amounts, satellite burned area products, and empirically derived parameterizations of combustion completeness and emission factors. To represent fire behavior characteristics, land cover is classified into grasslands and woodlands, using a satellite-derived percent tree cover product. The combustion completeness is modeled as a function of grass fuel moisture and the emission factors as a function of grass fuel moisture in grasslands and fuel mixture in woodlands. Fuel moisture is derived from a fuel load model and by using satellite vegetation index time series. A sensitivity analysis with respect to three satellite burned area products reveals large differences in emissions due to differences in their amounts and spatial distribution. The analysis at the regional scale shows, that early burning in grasslands may lead to higher amounts of products of incomplete combustion despite the lower amounts of fuel consumed, compared with late dry season burning. In contrast, early burning in woodlands results in lower emissions because less fuel gets consumed. These seasonal emissions trends become more pronounced when the fuels are wetter. Burning in woodlands dominates the regional emissions budgets. Emissions estimates for various atmospheric species, many of which are modeled for the first time, are reported and compared with other regional sources of pyrogenic emissions and global biomass burning and fossil fuel emissions. The modeled estimates for 2000 are (in Tg): 537 CO<sub>2</sub>, 23.2 CO, 0.726 CH<sub>4</sub>, 0.661 NMHC, 2.4 particulates (< 2.5 micron), 1.0 NO<sub>x</sub> and account for significant fractions of regional emissions from all pyrogenic sources. Especially high is the previously undetermined contribution of Oxygenated Volatile Organic Compounds (1.8 Tg). The methodology and results have direct implications for national reporting of savanna fire emissions.
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