Emissions of trace gases and particles from savanna fires in southern Africa

Parikhit Sinha, Peter V. Hobbs, Robert J. Yokelson, Isaac T. Bertschi, Donald R. Blake, Isobel J. Simpson, Song Gao, Thomas W. Kirchstetter, Tica Novakov

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137 Scopus citations


Airborne measurements made on initial smoke from 10 savanna fires in southern Africa provide quantitative data on emissions of 50 gaseous and particulate species, including carbon dioxide, carbon monoxide, sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxides, methane, ammonia, dimethyl sulfide, nonmethane organic compounds, halocarbons, gaseous organic acids, aerosol ionic components, carbonaceous aerosols, and condensation nuclei (CN). Measurements of several of the gaseous species by gas chromatography and Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy are compared. Emission ratios and emission factors are given for eight species that have not been reported previously for biomass burning of savanna in southern Africa (namely, dimethyl sulfide, methyl nitrate, five hydrocarbons, and particles with diameters from 0.1 to 3 μm). The emission factor that we measured for ammonia is lower by a factor of 4, and the emission factors for formaldehyde, hydrogen cyanide, and CN are greater by factors of about 3, 20, and 3-15, respectively, than previously reported values. The new emission factors are used to estimate annual emissions of these species from savanna fires in Africa and worldwide.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)SAF 23-1 - SAF 23-32
JournalJournal of Geophysical Research
Issue number13
StatePublished - 2003


  • Biomass fires
  • Emissions from fires
  • Particle emissions
  • Savanna fires
  • Smoke
  • Trace gas emissions


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