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Laboratory Studies of Carbon Emission from Biomass Burning for use in Remote SensingBiomass burning is a significant source of many trace gases in the atmosphere. Up to 25% of the total anthropogenic carbon dioxide added to the atmosphere annually is from biomass burning. However, this gaseous emission from fires is not directly detectable from satellite. Infrared radiance from the fires is. In order to see if infrared radiance can be used as a tracer for these emitted gases, we made laboratory measurements to determine the correlation of emitted carbon dioxide, carbon monoxide and total burned biomass with emitted infrared radiance. If the measured correlations among these quantities hold in the field, then satellite-observed infrared radiance can be used to estimate gaseous emission and total burned biomass on a global, daily basis. To this end, several types of biomass fuels were burned under controlled conditions in a large-scale combustion laboratory. Simultaneous measurements of emitted spectral infrared radiance, emitted carbon dioxide, carbon monoxide, and total mass loss were made. In addition measurements of fuel moisture content and fuel elemental abundance were made. We found that for a given fire, the quantity of carbon burned can be estimated from 11 (micro)m radiance measurements only within a factor of five. This variation arises from three sources, 1) errors in our measurements, 2) the subpixel nature of the fires, and 3) inherent differences in combustion of different fuel types. Despite this large range, these measurements can still be used for large-scale satellite estimates of biomass burned. This is because of the very large possible spread of fire sizes that will be subpixel as seen by Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS). Due to this large spread, even relatively low-precision correlations can still be useful for large-scale estimates of emitted carbon. Furthermore, such estimates using the MODIS 3.9 (micro)m channel should be even more accurate than our estimates based on 11 (micro)m radiance.
Document ID
Document Type
Preprint (Draft being sent to journal)
Wald, Andrew E. (NASA Goddard Space Flight Center Greenbelt, MD United States)
Kaufman, Yoram J. (NASA Goddard Space Flight Center Greenbelt, MD United States)
Date Acquired
August 19, 2013
Publication Date
January 1, 1998
Subject Category
Environment Pollution
Distribution Limits
Work of the US Gov. Public Use Permitted.