Analyzing the Impact of Evolving Combustion Conditions on the Composition of Wildfire Emissions Using Satellite Data

Lindsey D. Anderson, Barbara Dix, Jordan Schnell, Robert Yokelson, J. Pepijn Veefkind, Ravan Ahmadov, Joost de Gouw

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Wildfires have become larger and more frequent because of climate change, increasing their impact on air pollution. Air quality forecasts and climate models do not currently account for changes in the composition of wildfire emissions during the commonly observed progression from more flaming to smoldering combustion. Laboratory measurements have consistently shown decreased nitrogen dioxide (NO2) relative to carbon monoxide (CO) over time, as they transitioned from more flaming to smoldering combustion, while formaldehyde (HCHO) relative to CO remained constant. Here, we show how daily ratios between column densities of NO2 versus those of CO and HCHO versus CO from the Tropospheric Monitoring Instrument (TROPOMI) changed for large wildfires in the Western United States. TROPOMI-derived emission ratios were lower than those from the laboratory. We discuss reasons for the discrepancies, including how representative laboratory burns are of wildfires, the effect of aerosols on trace gas retrievals, and atmospheric chemistry in smoke plumes.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere2023GL105811
JournalGeophysical Research Letters
Volume50
Issue number23
DOIs
StatePublished - Dec 16 2023

Keywords

  • air quality
  • biomass burning emissions
  • remote sensing

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