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Type: Journal Article
Author(s): S. F. Schreier; A. Richter; Dmitry Schepaschenko; A. Shvidenko; A. Hilboll; J. P. Burrows
Publication Date: November 2015

Current fire emission inventories apply universal emission factors (EFs) for the calculation of NOx emissions over large biomes such as boreal forest. However, recent satellite-based studies over tropical and subtropical regions have indicated spatio-temporal variations in EFs within specific biomes. In this study, satellite measurements of tropospheric NO2 vertical columns (TVC NO2) from the GOME-2 instrument and fire radiative power (FRP) from MODIS are used for the estimation of fire emission rates (FERs) of NOx over Eurasian and North American boreal forests. The retrieval of TVC NO2 is based on a stratospheric correction using simulated stratospheric NO2 instead of applying the reference sector method, which was used in a previous study. The model approach is more suitable for boreal latitudes. TVC NO2 and FRP are spatially aggregated to a 1º x 1º horizontal resolution and temporally averaged to monthly values. The conversion of the satellite-derived tropospheric NO2 columns into production rates of NOx from fire (Pf) is based on the NO2/NOx ratio as obtained from the MACC reanalysis data set and an assumed lifetime of NOx. A global land cover map is used to define boreal forests across these two regions in order to evaluate the FERs of NOx for this biome. The FERs of NOx, which are derived from the gradients of the linear relationship between Pf and FRP, are more than 30% lower for North American than for Eurasian boreal forest fires. We speculate that these discrepancies are mainly related to the variable nitrogen content in plant tissues, which is higher in deciduous forests dominating large parts in Eurasia. In order to compare the obtained values with EFs found in the literature, the FERs are converted into EFs. The satellite-based EFs of NOx are estimated at 0.83 and 0.61 g kg-1 for Eurasian and North American boreal forests, respectively, which is in good agreement with the value found in a recent emission factor compilation. However, recent fire emission inventories are based on EFs of NOx that are 3-5 times larger, which indicates that there are still large uncertainties in estimates of NOx from biomass burning, especially on the regional scale. © 2014 The Authors. Published by Elsevier Ltd. This is an open access article under the CC BY license.

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Citation: Schreier, S. F., A. Richter, Dmitry Schepaschenko, A. Shvidenko, A. Hilboll, J. P. Burrows. 2015. Differences in satellite-derived NOx emission factors between Eurasian and North American boreal forest fires. Atmospheric Environment, v. 121, p. 55-65.

Cataloging Information

  • Asia
  • boreal forests
  • Canada
  • Europe
  • fire management
  • forest management
  • FRP - Fire Radiative Power
  • NOx emission factor
  • radiation
  • remote sensing
  • satellite measurements
  • smoke effects
  • smoke management
  • Tropospheric No2
  • wildfires
Tall Timbers Record Number: 32006Location Status: Not in fileCall Number: AvailableAbstract Status: Fair use, Okay, Reproduced by permission
Record Last Modified:
Record Maintained By: FRAMES Staff (
FRAMES Record Number: 54325

This bibliographic record was either created or modified by Tall Timbers and is provided without charge to promote research and education in Fire Ecology. The E.V. Komarek Fire Ecology Database is the intellectual property of Tall Timbers.