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Journal of Geophysical Research: Atmospheres

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Biochemistry | Chemistry | Physical Sciences and Mathematics


[1] We measured stable and reactive trace gases with an airborne Fourier transform infrared spectrometer (AFTIR) on the University of Washington Convair-580 research aircraft in August/September 2000 during the SAFARI 2000 dry season campaign in Southern Africa. The measurements included vertical profiles of CO2, CO, H2O, and CH4 up to 5.5 km on six occasions above instrumented ground sites and below the TERRA satellite and ER-2 high-flying research aircraft. We also measured the trace gas emissions from 10 African savanna fires. Five of these fires featured extensive ground-based fuel characterization, and two were in the humid savanna ecosystem that accounts for most African biomass burning. The major constituents that we detected in nascent smoke were (in order of excess molar abundance) H2O, CO2, CO, CH4, NO2, NO, C2H4, CH3COOH, HCHO, CH3OH, HCN, NH3, HCOOH, and C2H2. These are the first quantitative measurements of the initial emissions of oxygenated volatile organic compounds (OVOC), NH3, and HCN from African savanna fires. On average, we measured 5.3 g/kg of OVOC and 3.6 g/kg of hydrocarbons (including CH4) in the initial emissions from the fires. Thus, the OVOC will have profound, largely unexplored effects on tropical tropospheric chemistry. The HCN emission factor was only weakly dependent on fire type; the average value (0.53 g/kg) is about 20 times that of a previous recommendation. HCN may be useful as a tracer for savanna fires. ΔO3/ΔCO and ΔCH3COOH/ΔCO increased to as much as 9% in <1 h of photochemical processing downwind of fires. Direct measurements showed that cloud processing of smoke greatly reduced CH3OH, NH3, CH3COOH, SO2, and NO2 levels, but significantly increased HCHO and NO.


biomass burning, savanna fires, oxygenated organic compounds, cloud chemistry, photochemistry, HCN




Copyright 2003 by the American Geophysical Union