Estimation of fire-induced carbon emissions from Equatorial Asia in 2015 using in situ aircraft and ship observations

Niwa, Yosuke; Sawa, Yousuke; Nara, Hideki; Machida, Toshinobu; Matsueda, Hidekazu; Umezawa, Taku; Ito, Akihiko; Nakaoka, Shin-Ichiro; Tanimoto, Hiroshi; Tohjima, Yasunori

Inverse analysis was used to estimate fire carbon emissions in Equatorial Asia induced by the big El Niño event in 2015. This inverse analysis is unique because it extensively used high-precision atmospheric mole fraction data of carbon dioxide (COinline-formula2) from the commercial aircraft observation project CONTRAIL. Through comparisons with independent shipboard observations, especially carbon monoxide (CO) data, the validity of the estimated fire-induced carbon emissions was demonstrated. The best estimate, which used both aircraft and shipboard COinline-formula2 observations, indicated 273 Tg C for fire emissions from September–October 2015. This 2-month period accounts for 75 % of the annual total fire emissions and 45 % of the annual total net carbon flux within the region, indicating that fire emissions are a dominant driving force of interannual variations of carbon fluxes in Equatorial Asia. Several sensitivity experiments demonstrated that aircraft observations could measure fire signals, though they showed a certain degree of sensitivity to prior fire-emission data. The inversions coherently estimated smaller fire emissions than the prior data, partially because of the small contribution of peatland fires indicated by enhancement ratios of CO and COinline-formula2 observed by the ship. In future warmer climate conditions, Equatorial Asia may experience more severe droughts, which risks releasing a large amount of carbon into the atmosphere. Therefore, the continuation of aircraft and shipboard observations is fruitful for reliable monitoring of carbon fluxes in Equatorial Asia.

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Niwa, Yosuke / Sawa, Yousuke / Nara, Hideki / et al: Estimation of fire-induced carbon emissions from Equatorial Asia in 2015 using in situ aircraft and ship observations. 2021. Copernicus Publications.

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