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Philos Trans R Soc Lond B Biol Sci. 2018 Oct 8;373(1760). pii: 20170307. doi: 10.1098/rstb.2017.0307.

Monitoring emissions from the 2015 Indonesian fires using CO satellite data.

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Institute for Marine and Atmospheric Research Utrecht (IMAU), University of Utrecht, 3584 CC Utrecht, The Netherlands
Institute for Marine and Atmospheric Research Utrecht (IMAU), University of Utrecht, 3584 CC Utrecht, The Netherlands.
Department of Meteorology and Air Quality (MAQ), Wageningen University and Research Centre, 6700 AA Wageningen, The Netherlands.
SRON Netherlands Institute for Space Research, 3584 CA Utrecht, The Netherlands.
Faculty of Science, Vrije Universiteit, 1081 HV Amsterdam, The Netherlands.
Air Chemistry Department, Max Planck Institute for Chemistry, 55128 Mainz, Germany.
Royal Netherlands Meteorological Institute (KNMI), 3731 GA De Bilt, The Netherlands.
LATMOS/IPSL, Sorbonne Université, Université Paris-Saclay, CNRS, 75252 Paris, France.
Spectroscopie de l'Atmosphère, Service de Chimie Quantique et Photophysique, Université Libre de Bruxelles (ULB), 1050 Brussels, Belgium.
National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR), Boulder, CO 80305, USA.


Southeast Asia, in particular Indonesia, has periodically struggled with intense fire events. These events convert substantial amounts of carbon stored as peat to atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2) and significantly affect atmospheric composition on a regional to global scale. During the recent 2015 El Niño event, peat fires led to strong enhancements of carbon monoxide (CO), an air pollutant and well-known tracer for biomass burning. These enhancements were clearly observed from space by the Infrared Atmospheric Sounding Interferometer (IASI) and the Measurements of Pollution in the Troposphere (MOPITT) instruments. We use these satellite observations to estimate CO fire emissions within an inverse modelling framework. We find that the derived CO emissions for each sub-region of Indonesia and Papua are substantially different from emission inventories, highlighting uncertainties in bottom-up estimates. CO fire emissions based on either MOPITT or IASI have a similar spatial pattern and evolution in time, and a 10% uncertainty based on a set of sensitivity tests we performed. Thus, CO satellite data have a high potential to complement existing operational fire emission estimates based on satellite observations of fire counts, fire radiative power and burned area, in better constraining fire occurrence and the associated conversion of peat carbon to atmospheric CO2 A total carbon release to the atmosphere of 0.35-0.60 Pg C can be estimated based on our results.This article is part of a discussion meeting issue 'The impact of the 2015/2016 El Niño on the terrestrial tropical carbon cycle: patterns, mechanisms and implications'.


atmosphere; biomass burning; emissions; peat; satellite data

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