Trace gas emissions from burning Florida wetlands


  • Wesley R. Cofer III,

  • Joel S. Levine,

  • Edward L. Winstead,

  • Peter J. LeBel,

  • Albert M. Koller Jr.,

  • C. Ross Hinkle


Measurements of biomass burn-produced trace gases are presented that were obtained using a helicopter at low altitudes above burning Florida wetlands on November 9, 1987, and from both helicopter and light-aircraft samplings on November 7, 1988. Carbon dioxide (CO2) normalized emission ratios (ΔX/ΔCO2; V/V; where X is trace gas) for carbon monoxide (CO), hydrogen (H2), methane (CH4), total nonmethane hydrocarbons (TNMHC), and nitrous oxide (N2O) were obtained over burning graminoid wetlands consisting primarily of Spartina bakeri and Juncus roemerianus. Some interspersed scrub oak (Quercus spp) and saw palmetto (Screnoa repens) were also burned. No significant differences were observed in the emission ratios determined for these gases from samples collected over flaming, mixed, and smoldering phases of combustion during the 1987 fire. Combustion-categorized differences in emission ratios were small for the 1988 fire. Combustion efficiency was relatively good (low emission ratios for reduced gases) for both fires. We believe that the consistently low emission ratios were a unique result of graminoid wetlands fires, in which the grasses and rushes (both small-size fuels) burned rapidly down to standing water and were quickly extinguished. Consequently, the efficiency of the combustion was good and the amount and duration of smoldering combustion was greatly diminished.