In this study, we explored the relationships between the satellite-retrieved fire counts (FC), fire radiative power (FRP) and aerosol indices usingmulti-satellite datasets at a daily time-step covering ten different biomass burning regions in Asia. We first assessed the variations in MODIS-retrieved aerosol optical depths (AOD's) in agriculture, forests, plantation and peat land burning regions and then used MODIS FC and FRP (hereafter FC/FRP) to explain the variations in AOD characteristics. Results suggest that tropical broadleaf forests in Laos burn more intensively than the other vegetation fires. FC/FRP-AOD correlations in different agricultural residue burning regions did not exceed 20% whereas in forest regions they reached 40%. To specifically account for absorbing aerosols, we used Ozone Monitoring Instrument-derived aerosol absorption optical depth (AAOD) and UV aerosol index (UVAI). Results suggest relatively high AAOD and UVAI values in forest fires compared with peat and agriculture fires. Further, FC/FRP could explain a maximum of 29% and 53% of AAOD variations, where as FC/FRP could explain at most 33% and51% of the variation in agricultural and forest biomass burning regions, respectively. Relatively, UVAI was found to be a better indicator than AOD and AAOD in both agriculture and forest biomass burning plumes. Cloud-Aerosol Lidar and Infrared Pathfinder Satellite Observations data showed vertically elevated aerosol profiles greater than 3.2-5.3 km altitude in the forest fire plumes compared to 2.2-3.9 km and less than 1 km in agriculture and peat-land fires, respectively. We infer the need to assimilate smoke plume height information for effective characterization of pollutants from different sources. © 2015 IOP Publishing Ltd. Open access. Content from this work may be used under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 license. Any further distribution of the work must maintain attribution to the author(s) and the title of the work, journal citation, and DOI.