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Journal of Geophysical Research: Atmospheres

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Biochemistry | Chemistry | Physical Sciences and Mathematics


We used an airborne Fourier transform infrared spectrometer (AFTIR), coupled to a flow-through, air-sampling cell, on a King Air B-90 to make in situ trace gas measurements in isolated smoke plumes from four, large, boreal zone wildfires in interior Alaska during June 1997. AFTIR spectra acquired near the source of the smoke plumes yielded excess mixing ratios for 13 of the most common trace gases: water, carbon dioxide, carbon monoxide, methane, nitric oxide, formaldehyde, acetic acid, formic acid, methanol, ethylene, acetylene, ammonia and hydrogen cyanide. Emission ratios to carbon monoxide for formaldehyde, acetic acid, and methanol were 2.2±0.4%, 1.3±0.4%, and 1.4±0.1%, respectively. For each oxygenated organic compound, a single linear equation fits our emission factors from Alaska, North Carolina, and laboratory fires as a function of modified combustion efficiency (MCE). A linear equation for predicting the NH3/NOx emission ratio as a function of MCE fits our Alaskan AFTIR results and those from many other studies. AFTIR spectra collected in downwind smoke that had aged 2.2±1 hours in the upper, early plume yielded ΔO3/ΔCO ratios of 7.9±2.4% resulting from O3 production rates of ∼50 ppbv h−1. The ΔNH3/ΔCO ratio in another plume decreased to 1/e of its initial value in ∼2.5 hours. A set of average emission ratios and emission factors for fires in Alaskan boreal forests is derived. We estimate that the 1997 Alaskan fires emitted 46±11 Tg of CO2.




This paper is not subject to U. S. copyright. Published in 2000 by the American Geophysical Union