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© Author(s) 2020. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.
© Author(s) 2020. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Submitted as: research article 17 Mar 2020

Submitted as: research article | 17 Mar 2020

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This preprint is currently under review for the journal ACP.

Wildfire smoke in the lower stratosphere identified by in situ CO observations

Joram J. D. Hooghiem1, Maria Elena Popa2, Thomas Röckmann2, Jens-Uwe Grooß3, Ines Tritscher3, Rolf Müller3, Rigel Kivi4, and Huilin Chen1 Joram J. D. Hooghiem et al.
  • 1Centre for Isotope Research (CIO), Energy and Sustainability Institute Groningen (ESRIG), University of Groningen, Nijenborgh 6, 9747 AG Groningen, the Netherlands
  • 2Institute for Marine and Atmospheric research Utrecht, Utrecht University, Princetonplein 5, 3508 TA Utrecht, the Netherlands
  • 3Institute of Energy and Climate Research (IEK-7), FZ Jülich, Germany
  • 4Space and Earth Observation Centre, Finnish Meteorological Institute (FMI), Tähteläntie 62, 99600 Sodankylä, Finland

Abstract. Wildfires emit large quantities of aerosols and trace gases, which occasionally reach the lower stratosphere. In August 2017, several pyro-cumulonimbus events injected a large amount of smoke into the stratosphere, observed by lidar and satellites. Satellite observations are in general the main method of detecting these events since in situ aircraft- or balloon-based measurements of atmospheric composition at higher altitudes are not made frequent enough. This work presents accidental balloon-borne trace gas observations of wildfire smoke in the lower stratosphere, identified by enhanced CO mole fractions at approximately 13.6 km. In addition to CO mole fractions, CO2 mole fractions as well as isotopic composition of CO (δ13C and δ18O) have been measured in air samples collected using an AirCore and a LIghtweight Stratospheric Air sampler (LISA) flown on a weather balloon from Sodankylä (4–7 September 2017, 67.37° N, 26.63° E, 179 m a.s.l.), Finland. The greenhouse gas enhancement ratio (∆CO : ∆CO2) and the isotopic signature based on δ13C(CO) and δ18O(CO) independently identify wildfire emissions as the source of the stratospheric CO enhancement. Back-trajectory analysis, performed with the Chemical Lagrangian Model of the Stratosphere (CLaMS), corrected for vertical displacement, due to heating of the wildfire aerosols, by observations made by the Cloud-Aerosol Lidar with Orthogonal Polarization (CALIOP) instrument, trace the smoke’s origin to wildfires in British Colombia with an injection date of 12 August 2017. Knowledge of the age of the smoke allowed for a correction of the enhancement ratio, ∆CO : ∆CO2, for the chemical removal of CO by OH. The stable isotope observations were used to estimate the amount of tropospheric air in the plume at the time of observation to be about 34 ± 14 %. The in situ observations provide information on the trace gas chemistry of smoke plumes that reach the stratosphere, as well as the vertical extent of 1 km of the 2017 smoke plume.

Joram J. D. Hooghiem et al.

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Joram J. D. Hooghiem et al.

Joram J. D. Hooghiem et al.


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Short summary
Wildfires release a large quantity of pollutants that can reach the stratosphere through pyroconvection events. In September 2017, a stratospheric plume was accidentally sampled during balloon soundings in northern Finland. The source of the plume was identified to be wildfire smoke based on in situ measurements of carbon monoxide (CO) and stable isotope analysis of CO. Furthermore, the age of the plume was estimated using backwards transport modelling to be ~ 24 days, with its origin in Canada.
Wildfires release a large quantity of pollutants that can reach the stratosphere through...