In September and October 2015 widespread forest and peatland fires burned over large parts of maritime southeast Asia, most notably Indonesia, releasing large amounts of terrestrially-stored carbon into the atmosphere, primarily in the form of CO2, CO and CH4. With a mean emission rate of 11.3 Tg CO2 per day during Sept-Oct 2015, emissions from these fires exceeded the fossil fuel CO2 release rate of the European Union (EU28) (8.9 Tg CO2 per day). Although seasonal fires are a frequent occurrence in the human modified landscapes found in Indonesia, the extent of the 2015 fires was greatly inflated by an extended drought period associated with a strong El Niño. We estimate carbon emissions from the 2015 fires to be the largest seen in maritime southeast Asia since those associated with the record breaking El Niño of 1997. Compared to that event, a much better constrained regional total carbon emission estimate can be made for the 2015 fires through the use of present-day satellite observations of the fire's radiative power output and atmospheric CO concentrations, processed using the modelling and assimilation framework of the Copernicus Atmosphere Monitoring Service (CAMS) and combined with unique in situ smoke measurements made on Kalimantan.
V Huijnen, MJ Wooster, JW Kaiser, DLA Gaveau, J Flemming, M Parrington, A Inness, D Murdiyarso, B Main, M van Weele. Fire carbon emissions over maritime southeast Asia in 2015 largest since 1997
Status: published, Journal: Scientific Reports, Year: 2016, doi: 10.1038/srep26886