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Improving estimates of CO emissions from biomass burning using FRP and its applicability to atmospheric models

Lynn Sparling, Department of Physics
Thishan Dharshana Karandana Gamalathge, Department of Physics
Ray Hoff, Department of Physics
Vanderlei Martins, Department of Physics
Charles Ichoku, NASA


Biomass burning is getting increasing attention because large areas of the globe burn each year, and these fires emit large amounts of smoke and trace gases. In an attempt to find a relationship between total carbon monoxide (CO) production and fire radiative energy (FRE), a previous study has found proportionality between these two variables with a relatively high correlation coefficient. However, that study was performed under laboratory conditions, which might not replicate actual conditions in forest fires. In our work, we are using CO total columns retrieved from Terra-MOPITT and fire radiative power (FRP) measurements from Terra-MODIS to investigate a similar relationship for actual landscape fires. As a preliminary study for this task, we selected a few prominent fires that were observed from the Terra satellite. Interestingly, based on the analysis so far for the California fires in 2007, we have seen a convincing graphical association between CO total
column and FRP. Once the process is completed for other fires, we are planning on utilizing this quantitative relationship between CO emission rates and FRP to derive CO emissions from fires globally for use in atmospheric models to forecast CO distribution. In this way, we will help improve forecast tools for biomass burning emissions, based on satellite data, which we can access in near real time.  Moreover, this would positively contribute to the estimates of biomass burning contribution to global warming.