Interannual variability of tropospheric trace gases and aerosols: The role of biomass burning emissions


Journal Article

© 2015. American Geophysical Union. All Rights Reserved. Fires are responsible for a range of gaseous and aerosol emissions. However, their influence on the interannual variability of atmospheric trace gases and aerosols has not been systematically investigated from a global perspective. We examine biomass burning emissions as a driver of interannual variability of large-scale abundances of short-lived constituents such as carbon monoxide (CO), hydroxyl radicals (OH), ozone, and aerosols using the Goddard Institute for Space Studies ModelE composition-climate model and a range of observations, with an emphasis on satellite information. Our model captures the observed variability of the constituents examined in most cases, but with substantial underestimates in boreal regions. The strongest interannual variability on a global scale is found for carbon monoxide (~10% for its global annual burden), while the lowest is found for tropospheric ozone (~1% for its global annual burden). Regionally, aerosol optical depth shows the largest variability which exceeds 50%. Areas of strong variability of both aerosols and CO include the tropical land regions (especially Equatorial Asia and South America) and northern high latitudes, while even regions in the northern midlatitudes experience substantial interannual variability of aerosols. Ozone variability peaks over equatorial Asia in boreal autumn, partly due to varying biomass burning emissions, and over the western and central Pacific in the rest of the year, mainly due to meteorological fluctuations. We find that biomass burning emissions are almost entirely responsible for global CO interannual variability, and similarly important for OH variability. The same is true for global and regional aerosol variability, especially when not taking into account dust and sea-salt particles. We show that important implications can arise from such interannual influences for regional climate and air quality.

Full Text

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • Voulgarakis, A; Marlier, ME; Faluvegi, G; Shindell, DT; Tsigaridis, K; Mangeon, S

Published Date

  • January 1, 2015

Published In

Volume / Issue

  • 120 / 14

Start / End Page

  • 7157 - 7173

Electronic International Standard Serial Number (EISSN)

  • 2156-2202

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

  • 0148-0227

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.1002/2014JD022926

Citation Source

  • Scopus