Influence of plumes from biomass burning on atmospheric chemistry over the equatorial and tropical South Atlantic during CITE 3


  • M. O. Andreae,

  • B. E. Anderson,

  • D. R. Blake,

  • J. D. Bradshaw,

  • J. E. Collins,

  • G. L. Gregory,

  • G. W. Sachse,

  • M. C. Shipham


During all eight flights conducted over the equatorial and tropical South Atlantic (27°–35°W, 2°N–11°S; September 9–22, 1989) in the course of the Chemical Instrumentation Test and Evaluation (CITE 3) experiment, we observed haze layers with elevated concentrations of aerosols, O3, CO, and other trace gases related to biomass burning emissions. They occurred at altitudes between 1000 and 5200 m and were usually only some 100–300 m thick. These layers extended horizontally over several 100 km and were marked by the presence of visible brownish haze. These layers strongly influenced the chemical characteristics of the atmosphere over this remote oceanic region. Air mass trajectories indicate that these layers originate in the biomass burning regions of Africa and South America and typically have aged at least 10 days since the time of emission. In the haze layers, O3 and CO concentrations up to 90 and 210 ppb were observed, respectively. The two species were highly correlated. The ratio ΔO3/ΔCO (Δ, concentrations in plume minus background concentrations) is typically in the range 0.2–0.7, much higher than the ratios in the less aged plumes investigated previously in Amazonia. In most cases, aerosol (0.12–3 μm diameter) number concentrations were also elevated by up to 400 cm−3 in the layers; aerosol enrichments were also strongly correlated with elevated CO levels. Clear correlations between CO and NOx enrichments were not apparent due to the age of the plumes, in which most NOx would have already reacted away within 1–2 days. Only in some of the plumes could clear correlations between NOy and CO be identified; the absence of a general correlation between NOy and CO may be due to instrumental limitations and to variable sinks for NOy. The average enrichment of ΔNOy/ΔCO was quite high, consistent with the efficient production of ozone observed in the plumes. The chemical characteristics of the haze layers, together with remote sensing information and trajectory calculations, suggest that fire emissions (in Africa and/or South America) are the primary source of the haze layer components.