Smoke and fire characteristics for cerrado and deforestation burns in Brazil: BASE-B Experiment


  • D. E. Ward,

  • R. A. Susott,

  • J. B. Kauffman,

  • R. E. Babbitt,

  • D. L. Cummings,

  • B. Dias,

  • B. N. Holben,

  • Y. J. Kaufman,

  • R. A. Rasmussen,

  • A. W. Setzer


Fires of the tropical forests and savannas are a major source of particulate matter and trace gases affecting the atmosphere globally. A paucity of quantitative information exists for these ecosystems with respect to fuel biomass, smoke emissions, and fire behavior conditions affecting the release of emissions. Five test fires were performed during August and September 1990 in the cerrado (savannalike region) in central Brazil (three fires) and tropical moist forest (two fires) in the eastern Amazon. This paper details the gases released, the ratios of the gases to each other and to particulate matter, fuel loads and the fraction consumed (combustion factors), and the fire behavior associated with biomass consumption. Models are presented for evaluating emission factors for CH4, CO2, CO, H2, and particles less than 2.5 μm diameter (PM2.5) as a function of combustion efficiency. The ratio of carbon released as CO2 (combustion efficiency) for the cerrado fires averaged 0.94 and for the deforestation fires it decreased from 0.88 for the flaming phase to <0.80 during the smoldering phase of combustion. For tropical ecosystems, emissions of most products of incomplete combustion are projected to be lower than previous estimates for savanna ecosystems and somewhat higher for fires used for deforestation purposes.