Past studies suggest that forest fires contribute significantly to the formation of ozone in the troposphere. However, the emissions of ozone precursors from wildfires, and the mechanisms involved in ozone production from boreal fires, are very complicated. Moreover, an evaluation of the role of forest fires is prevented by the lack of direct observations of the ozone precursor, nitrogen oxides (NOx), and large uncertainties exist in the emissions inventories currently used for modelling. A comprehensive understanding of the important processes and factors involving wildfires has thus been unobtainable. We made 16 year consistent analyses of NOx emissions from boreal wildfires by using satellite observations of tropospheric nitrogen dioxides (NO2) from 1996 to 2011. We report substantial interannual variability of tropospheric NO2 originating from large boreal fires over Siberia in 1998, 2002, 2003, 2006, and 2008; and over Alaska in 2004, 2005, and 2009. Monthly comparisons of NO2 enhancements with fire radiative power (FRP) show reasonably strong correlation, suggesting that FRP is a better proxy than burned area for boreal fire NOx emissions. We provide space-based constraints on NOx emission factors (EFs) for Siberian and Alaskan fires. Although the associated uncertainty is relatively large, the derived EFs fall into a in reasonably agreeable range with those previously determined by in situ ground-based and airborne observations over these regions.
H Tanimoto, K Ikeda, KF Boersma, RJ van der A, S Garivait. Interannual variability of nitrogen oxides emissions from boreal fires in Siberia and Alaska during 1996-2011 as observed from space
published, Environmental Research Letters, 2015