1Institute of Environmental Physics, University of Bremen, Bremen, Germany
2King's College London, London, UK
3European Centre for Medium-range Weather Forecasts, Reading, UK
4Max Planck Institute for Chemistry, Mainz, Germany
Abstract. Nitrogen oxides (NOx) play key roles in atmospheric chemistry, air pollution, and climate. While the largest fraction of these reactive gases is released by anthropogenic emission sources, a significant amount can be attributed to vegetation fires. In this study, NO2 from GOME-2 on board EUMETSAT's MetOp-A and OMI on board NASA's Aura as well as fire radiative power (FRP) from the measurements of MODIS on board NASA's Terra and Aqua are used to derive fire emission rates (FERs) of NOx for different types of vegetation using a simple statistical approach. Monthly means of tropospheric NO2 vertical columns (TVC NO2) have been analyzed for their temporal correlation with the monthly means of FRP for five consecutive years from 2007 to 2011 on a horizontal 1° × 1° grid. The strongest correlation is found to be largely confined to tropical and subtropical regions, which account for more than 80% of yearly burned area on average globally. In these regions, the seasonal variation of fire intensity, expressed by the FRP data, is similar to the pattern of TVC NO2. As chemical models typically require values for the amount of NOx being released as a function of time, we have converted the retrieved TVC NO2 into production rates of NOx from fire (Pf) by assuming a constant lifetime of NOx. The comparison between Pf and NOx emissions from GFEDv3.1 over 5 characteristic biomass burning regions in the tropics and subtropics indicated good agreement. By separating the monthly means of Pf and FRP according to land cover type, FERs of NOx could be derived for different biomes. The estimated FERs for the dominating types of vegetation burned are lowest for open shrublands and savannas (0.28–1.03 g NOx s−1 MW−1) and highest for croplands and woody savannas (0.82–1.56 g NOx s−1 MW−1). This analysis demonstrates clearly that there are biome-specific, diurnal, and regional differences in FERs for the dominating types of vegetation burned in the tropics and subtropics. Possible factors affecting the magnitude of the obtained values are discussed.