Impact of biomass burning on surface water quality in Southeast Asia through atmospheric deposition: field observations
1Tropical Marine Science Institute 14 Kent Ridge Road, National University of Singapore, 119223, Singapore
2Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering, National University of Singapore, Engineering Drive 1, 117576, Singapore
3Division of Environmental Science and Engineering, National University of Singapore, Engineering Drive 1, 117576, Singapore
4Singapore Delft Water Alliance, National University of Singapore, Engineering Drive 1, 117576, Singapore
Abstract. Atmospheric nutrients have recently gained attention as a significant additional source of new nitrogen (N) and phosphorus (P) loading to the ocean. The effect of atmospheric N on marine productivity depends on the biological availability of both inorganic and organic N and P forms. During October 2006, the regional smoke haze episode in Southeast Asia (SEA) that resulted from uncontrolled forest fires in Sumatra and Borneo blanketed large tracts of the region. In this work, we determined the composition of nutrients in aerosols and rainwater during haze and non-haze periods to assess their impacts on aquatic ecosystem in SEA for the first time. We compared atmospheric dry and wet deposition of N and P species in aerosol and rainwater in Singapore between haze and non haze periods. Air mass back trajectories showed that large-scale forest and peat fires in Sumatra and Kalimantan were a significant source of atmospheric nutrients to aquatic environments in Singapore and SEA region on hazy days. It was observed that the average concentrations of nutrients increased approximately by a factor of 3 to 8 on hazy days when compared with non-hazy days. The mean dry atmospheric fluxes (g/m2/year) of TN and TP observed during hazy and non-hazy days were 4.77±0.775 and 0.3±0.082, and 0.91±0.471 and 0.046±0.01, respectively. The mean wet deposition fluxes (g/m2/year) of TN and TP were 12.2±3.53 and 0.726±0.074, and 2.71±0.989 and 0.144±0.06 for hazy and non-hazy days, respectively. The occurrences of higher concentrations of nutrients from atmospheric deposition during smoke haze episodes may have adverse consequences on receiving aquatic ecosystems with cascading impacts on water quality.