Global Biogeochemical Cycles

Seasonal and interannual variations in CO and BC emissions from open biomass burning in Southern Africa during 1998–2005



[1] We estimate the emissions of carbon monoxide (CO) and black carbon (BC) from open vegetation fires in the Southern Hemisphere Africa from 1998 to 2005 using satellite information in conjunction with a biogeochemical model. Monthly burned areas at a 0.5-degree resolution are estimated from the Visible InfraRed Scanner (VIRS) fire count product and the MODerate resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) burned area data set associated with the MODIS tree cover imagery in grasslands and woodlands. The monthly fuel load distributions are derived from a 0.5-degree terrestrial carbon cycle model in conjunction with satellite data. The monthly maps of combustion factors and emission factors are estimated using empirical models that predict the effects of fuel conditions on these factors in grasslands and woodlands. Our annually averaged effective CO and BC emissions per area burned are 27 g CO m−2 and 0.17 g BC m−2 which are consistent with the products of fuel consumption and emission factors typically measured in southern Africa. The CO and BC emissions from open vegetation burning in southern Africa range from 45 Tg CO yr−1 and 0.26 Tg BC yr−1 for 2002 to 75 Tg CO yr−1 and 0.42 Tg BC yr−1 for 1998. The monthly averaged burned areas from VIRS fire counts peak earlier than modeled CO emissions. This characteristic delay between burned areas and emissions is mainly explained by significant changes in combustion factors for woodlands in our model. Consequently, the peaks in CO and BC emissions from our bottom-up approach are identical to those from previous top-down estimates using the Measurement Of the Pollution In The Troposphere (MOPITT) and the Total Ozone Mapping Spectrometer (TOMS) Aerosol Index (AI) data.