New estimate of particulate emissions from Indonesian peat fires in 2015
Indonesia contains large areas of peatland that have been drained and cleared of natural vegetation, making them susceptible to burning. Peat fires emit considerable amounts of carbon dioxide, particulate matter (PM) and other trace gases, contributing to climate change and causing regional air pollution. However, emissions from peat fires are uncertain, due to uncertainties in emission factors and fuel consumption. We used the Weather Research and Forecasting model with chemistry and measurements of PM concentrations to constrain PM emissions from Indonesian fires during 2015, one of the largest fire seasons in recent decades. We estimate primary PM2.5 (particles with diameters less than 2.5 µm) emissions from fires across Sumatra and Borneo during September–October 2015 were 7.33 Tg, a factor 3.5 greater than those in the Fire Inventory from NCAR (FINNv1.5), which does not include peat burning. We estimate similar dry fuel consumption and CO2 emissions to those in the Global Fire Emissions Database (GFED4s, including small fires) but PM2.5 emissions that are a factor of 1.8 greater, due to updated PM2.5 emission factors for Indonesian peat. Fires were responsible for an additional 3.12 Tg of secondary organic aerosol formation. Through comparing simulated and measured PM concentrations, our work provides independent support of these updated emission factors. We estimate peat burning contributed 71 % of total primary PM2.5 emissions from fires in Indonesia during September–October 2015. We show that using satellite-retrieved soil moisture to modify the assumed depth of peat burn improves the simulation of PM, increasing the correlation between simulated and observed PM from 0.48 to 0.56. Overall, our work suggests that peat fires in Indonesia produce substantially greater PM emissions than estimated in current emission inventories, with implications for the predicted air quality impacts of peat burning.