Fire and Biofuel Contributions to Annual Mean Aerosol Mass Concentrations in the United States
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CitationPark, Rokjin J., Daniel J. Jacob, and Jennifer A. Logan. 2007. Fire and biofuel contributions to annual mean aerosol mass concentrations in the United States. Atmospheric Environment 41(35): 7389-7400.
AbstractWe estimate the contributions from biomass burning (summer wildfires, other fires, residential biofuel, and industrial biofuel) to seasonal and annual aerosol concentrations in the United States. Our approach is to use total carbonaceous (TC) and non-soil potassium (ns-K) aerosol mass concentrations for 2001–2004 from the nationwide IMPROVE network of surface sites, together with satellite fire data. We find that summer wildfires largely drive the observed interannual variability of TC aerosol concentrations in the United States. TC/ns-K mass enhancement ratios from fires range from 10 for grassland and shrub fires in the south to 130 for forest fires in the north. The resulting summer wildfire contributions to annual TC aerosol concentrations for 2001–2004 are 0.26 μg C m−3 in the west and 0.14 μg C m−3 in the east; Canadian fires are a major contributor in the east. Non-summer wildfires and prescribed burns contribute on an annual mean basis 0.27 and 0.31 μg C m−3 in the west and the east, highest in the southeast because of prescribed burning. Residential biofuel is a large contributor in the northeast with annual mean concentration of up to 2.2 μg C m−3 in Maine. Industrial biofuel (mainly paper and pulp mills) contributes up to 0.3 μg C m−3 in the southeast. Total annual mean fine aerosol concentrations from biomass burning average 1.2 and 1.6 μg m−3 in the west and east, respectively, contributing about 50% of observed annual mean TC concentrations in both regions and accounting for 30% (west) and 20% (east) of total observed fine aerosol concentrations. Our analysis supports bottom-up source estimates for the contiguous United States of 0.7–0.9 Tg C yr−1 from open fires (climatological) and 0.4 Tg C yr−1 from biofuel use. Biomass burning is thus an important contributor to US air quality degradation, which is likely to grow in the future.
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