Direct measurements of the seasonality of emission factors from savanna fires in northern Australia

Authors


Abstract

[1] Current good practice guidelines for national greenhouse gas inventories requires that seasonal variation in emission factors from savanna fires be considered when compiling national accounts. African studies concluded that the emission factor for methane decreases during the dry season principally due to curing of the fuels. However, available data from Australian tropical savannas shows no effect of seasonality on emission factors, consistent with observations that the fine fuels appear to cure fully soon after the start of the fire season. To test whether the seasonality in greenhouse gas emission factors reported for Africa also occurs in Australia, methane and nitrous oxide emission factors were measured in early and in late dry season fires in Western Arnhem Land, a region typical of much of the northern Australia savanna zone. We found no significant seasonality in methane emission factors, but there was substantial variation in emission factors associated with inter-fire differences in vegetation and fuel. This variation could be explained almost completely by combustion efficiency. Nitrous oxide emission factors were not related to combustion efficiency but showed some variation across vegetation and fuel size class. Both methane and nitrous oxide emission factors were consistent with previous work in northern Australia and with some published values from Africa. The absence of a significant seasonal trend in emission factors indicates that savanna fire emissions in northern Australia can be managed by strategic prescribed burning.