Publication Details

Viatte, C., Strong, K., Paton-Walsh, C., Mendonca, J., O'Neill, N. T. & Drummond, J. R. (2013). Measurements of CO, HCN, and C2H6 total columns in smoke plumes transported from the 2010 Russian boreal forest fires to the Canadian high arctic. Atmosphere-Ocean, 51 (5), 522-531.


In August 2010, simultaneous enhancements of aerosol optical depth and total columns of carbon monoxide (CO), hydrogen cyanide (HCN), and ethane (C2H6) were observed at the Polar Environment Atmospheric Research Laboratory (PEARL, 80.05°N, −86.42°W, 0.61 km above sea level, Eureka, Nunavut, Canada). Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) hot spots, Ozone Monitoring Instrument (OMI) aerosol index maps, and Hybrid Single Particle Lagrangian Integrated Trajectory (HYSPLIT) back-trajectories were used to attribute these enhancements to an intense boreal fire event occurring in Russia. A ground-based Fourier Transform InfraRed (FTIR) spectrometer at PEARL provided vertically integrated measurements of trace gases transported in smoke plumes. We derived HCN and C2H6 equivalent emission ratios with respect to CO of 0.0054 ± 0.0022 and 0.0108 ± 0.0036, respectively, and converted them into equivalent emission factors of 0.66 ± 0.27 g kg−1 and 1.47 ± 0.50 g kg−1 (in grams of gas per kilogram of dry biomass burnt, with one-sigma uncertainties). These emission factors add new observations to the relatively sparse datasets available and can be used to improve the simulation of biomass burning fire emissions in chemical transport models. These emission factors for the boreal forest are in agreement with the mean values recently reported in a compilation study.

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