Publication Details

Paton-Walsh, C., Deutscher, N. M., Griffith, D. W., Forgan, B., Wilson, S. R., Jones, N. B. & Edwards, D. (2010). Trace gas emissions from savanna fires in northern Australia. Journal of Geophysical Research: Atmospheres, 115 (D16314), 1-32.


We present analyses of near‐infrared ground‐based Fourier transform infrared solar absorption spectra recorded from a site in Darwin, Northern Territory, Australia (12.4°S, 130.9°E) from August 2005 to June 2008. Total column amounts of carbon monoxide derived from these spectra show a very clear annual cycle, with evidence of transported pollution from Indonesian fires in 2006. Aerosol optical depth measurements from the same site show a similar annual cycle but without exceptional values in 2006, suggesting significant loss of aerosol loading in the transported and aged smoke. In addition, we report the first ever measurements by remote sensing solar Fourier transform infrared of emission ratios with respect to carbon monoxide for formaldehyde (0.022 ± 0.007), acetylene (0.0024 ± 0.0003), ethane (0.0020 ± 0.0003), and hydrogen cyanide (0.0018 ± 0.0003) from Australian savanna fires. These are derived from mid‐infrared spectra recorded through smoke plumes over Darwin on 20 separate days. The only previous measurements of emission ratios for formaldehyde and hydrogen cyanide from Australian savanna fires involved cryogenic trapping and storage of samples that were gathered in very fresh smoke. The results reported here are nearly an order of magnitude higher (but in agreement with laboratory studies), suggesting losses in the collection, storage, or transfer of the gases in the earlier measurements and/or chemical production of these reactive gases within the smoke plumes. Emission ratios for acetylene and ethane from this work are in broad agreement with other literature values.



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