Journal of Geophysical Research: Atmospheres

Airborne infrared spectroscopy of 1994 western wildfires


  • Helen Worden,

  • Reinhard Beer,

  • Curtis P. Rinsland


In the summer of 1994 the 0.07 cm−1 resolution infrared Airborne Emission Spectrometer (AES) acquired spectral data over two wildfires, one in central Oregon on August 3 and the other near San Luis Obispo, California, on August 15. The spectrometer was on board a NASA DC-8 research aircraft, flying at an altitude of 12 km. The spectra from both fires clearly show features due to water vapor, carbon dioxide, carbon monoxide, ammonia, methanol, formic acid, and ethylene at significantly higher abundance and temperature than observed in downlooking spectra of normal atmospheric and ground conditions. Column densities are derived for several species, and molar ratios are compared with previous biomass fire measurements. We believe that this is the first time such data have been acquired by airborne spectral remote sensing.