Spatial and temporal distribution of tropical biomass burning


  • Wei Min Hao,

  • Mei-Huey Liu


A database for the spatial and temporal distribution of the amount of biomass burned in tropical America, Africa, and Asia during the late 1970s is presented with a resolution of 5° latitude × 5° longitude. The sources of burning in each grid cell have been quantified. Savanna fires, shifting cultivation, deforestation, fuel wood use, and burning of agricultural residues contribute about 50, 24, 10, 11, and 5%, respectively, of total biomass burned in the tropics. Savanna fires dominate in tropical Africa, and forest fires dominate in tropical Asia. A similar amount of biomass is burned from forest and savanna fires in tropical America. The distribution of biomass burned monthly during the dry season has been derived for each grid cell using the seasonal cycles of surface ozone concentrations. Land use changes during the last decade could have a profound impact on the amount of biomass burned and the amount of trace gases and aerosol particles emitted.