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Discussion papers
https://doi.org/10.5194/acp-2018-849
© Author(s) 2018. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.
https://doi.org/10.5194/acp-2018-849
© Author(s) 2018. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Research article 10 Sep 2018

Research article | 10 Sep 2018

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This discussion paper is a preprint. It is a manuscript under review for the journal Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics (ACP).

Biomass burning aerosol over the Amazon: analysis of aircraft, surface and satellite observations using a global aerosol model

Carly L. Reddington1, William T. Morgan2, Eoghan Darbyshire2, Joel Brito3,a, Hugh Coe2, Paulo Artaxo3, John Marsham1, and Dominick V. Spracklen1 Carly L. Reddington et al.
  • 1School of Earth and Environment, University of Leeds, Leeds, UK
  • 2Centre of Atmospheric Sciences, School of Earth and Environmental Science, University of Manchester, Manchester, UK
  • 3Physics Institute, University of São Paulo, São Paulo, Brazil
  • anow at: Laboratoire de Météorologie Physique, Université Clermont Auvergne, Aubière, France

Abstract. Vegetation fires emit large quantities of aerosol to the atmosphere impacting regional air quality and climate. Previous work has used comparisons of simulated and observed aerosol optical depth (AOD) in regions heavily impacted by fires to suggest emissions of aerosol particles from fires may be underestimated by a factor of 2–5. Here we use surface, aircraft and satellite observations made over the Amazon during September 2012 along with a global aerosol model to improve understanding of aerosol emissions from vegetation fires. We apply three different satellite-derived fire emission datasets (FINN, GFED, GFAS) in the model. Aerosol emissions in these datasets vary by up to a factor 4 over the Amazon during this period, highlighting the considerable uncertainty in emissions. We find variable agreement between the model and observed aerosol mass concentrations. The model well reproduces observed aerosol concentrations in some periods over deforestation fires in the western Amazon. In contrast, the model underestimates aerosol concentrations over savannah fires in the eastern Amazon. The model consistently underestimates AOD compared to satellite and ground stations, even when the model reproduces the observed vertical profile of aerosol mass concentration. We suggest this is likely caused by uncertainties in the calculation of AOD, with the largest sensitivity due to uncertainty in water uptake. We therefore caution against using comparison with AOD to constrain particulate emissions from fires.

Carly L. Reddington et al.
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Carly L. Reddington et al.
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We use a global aerosol model with observations to improve model representation of aerosol emissions from fires in the Amazon. We find that observed aerosol concentrations are captured by the model over deforestation fires in the western Amazon, but underestimated over savannah fires in the eastern Amazon. The model underestimates observed aerosol optical depth (AOD) even when the observed aerosol vertical profile is reproduced. We suggest this may be due to uncertainties in the AOD calculation.
We use a global aerosol model with observations to improve model representation of aerosol...
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