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View: Abstract

Estimating emissions from fires in North America for air quality modeling

Wiedinmyer, C., B. Quayle, C. Geron, A. Belote, D. McKenzie, X. Zhang, S. O'Neill, and K.K. Wynne. 2006. Estimating emissions from fires in North America for air quality modeling. Atmospheric Environment 40(19):3419-3432.


Fires contribute substantial emissions of trace gases and particles to the atmosphere. These emissions can impact air quality and even climate. We have developed a modeling framework to estimate the emissions from fires in North and parts of Central America (10-71 degrees N and 55-175 degrees W) by taking advantage of a combination of complementary satellite and ground-based data to refine estimates of fuel loadings.

Various satellite drivers, including the MODIS Thermal Anomalies Product, the Global Land Cover Characteristics 2000 dataset, and the MODIS Vegetation Continuous Fields Product were used in conjunction with data mined from literature to determine fire location and timing, fuel loadings, and emission factors. Daily emissions of particulate matter and numerous trace gases from fires were estimated using this method for three years (2002-2004).

Annual emission estimates differ by as much as a factor of 2 (CO emissions for North America ranged from 22.6 to 39.5 Tg yr-1). Regional variations in emissions correspond to different fire seasons within the region. For example, the highest emissions from Central America and Mexico occur in the late spring whereas the highest emissions from the United States and Canada occur during the summer months. Comparisons of these results with other published estimates of CO emission estimates from fire show reasonable agreement, but substantial uncertainties remain in the estimation techniques. We suggest methods whereby future emissions models can reduce these uncertainties.