CHARACTERIZING RICE RESIDUE BURNING AND ASSOCIATED EMISSIONS IN VIETNAM USING A REMOTE SENSING AND FIELD-BASED APPROACH
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Agricultural residue burning, practiced in croplands throughout the world, adversely impacts public health and regional air quality. Monitoring and quantifying agricultural residue burning with remote sensing alone is difficult due to lack of field data, hazy conditions obstructing satellite remote sensing imagery, small field sizes, and active field management. This dissertation highlights the uncertainties, discrepancies, and underestimation of agricultural residue burning emissions in a small-holder agriculturalist region, while also developing methods for improved bottom-up quantification of residue burning and associated emissions impacts, by employing a field and remote sensing-based approach. The underestimation in biomass burning emissions from rice residue, the fibrous plant material left in the field after harvest and subjected to burning, represents the starting point for this research, which is conducted in a small-holder agricultural landscape of Vietnam. This dissertation quantifies improved bottom-up air pollution emissions estimates through refinements to each component of the fine-particulate matter emissions equation, including the use of synthetic aperture radar timeseries to explore rice land area variation between different datasets and for date of burn estimates, development of a new field method to estimate both rice straw and stubble biomass, and also improvements to emissions quantification through the use of burning practice specific emission factors and combustion factors. Moreover, the relative contribution of residue burning emissions to combustion sources was quantified, demonstrating emissions are higher than previously estimated, increasing the importance for mitigation. The dissertation further explored air pollution impacts from rice residue burning in Hanoi, Vietnam through trajectory modelling and synoptic meteorology patterns, as well as timeseries of satellite air pollution and reanalysis datasets. The results highlight the inherent difficulty to capture air pollution impacts in the region, especially attributed to cloud cover obstructing optical satellite observations of episodic biomass burning. Overall, this dissertation found that a prominent satellite-based emissions dataset vastly underestimates emissions from rice residue burning. Recommendations for future work highlight the importance for these datasets to account for crop and burning practice specific emission factors for improved emissions estimates, which are useful to more accurately highlight the importance of reducing emissions from residue burning to alleviate air quality issues.