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Impact of biomass burning on ocean water quality in Southeast Asia through atmospheric deposition: field observations

by P Sundarambal, R Balasubramanian, P Tkalich, J He
Atmos. Chem. Phys. ()

Abstract

Atmospheric nutrients have recently gained considerable attention as a significant additional source of new nitrogen (N) and phosphorus (P) loading to the ocean. The effect of atmospheric macro nutrients on marine productivity depends on the biological availability of both inorganic and organic N and P forms. During October 2006, the regional smoke haze episodes in Southeast Asia (SEA) that resulted from uncontrolled forest and peat fires in Sumatra and Borneo blanketed large parts of the region. In this work, we determined the chemical composition of nutrients in aerosols and rainwater during hazy and non-hazy days to assess their impacts on aquatic ecosystem in SEA for the first time. We compared atmospheric dry and wet deposition of N and P species in aerosol and rainwater in Singapore between hazy and non-hazy days. Air mass back trajectories showed that large-scale forest and peat fires in Sumatra and Kalimantan were a significant source of atmospheric nutrients to aquatic environments in Singapore and SEA region on hazy days. It was observed that the average concentrations of nutrients increased approximately by a factor of 3 to 8 on hazy days when compared with non-hazy days. The estimated mean dry and wet atmospheric fluxes (mg/m2/day) of total nitrogen (TN) were 12.72 ± 2.12 and 2.49 ± 1.29 during non-hazy days and 132.86 ± 38.39 and 29.43 ± 10.75 during hazy days; the uncertainty estimates are represented as 1 standard deviation (1σ) here and throughout the text. The estimated mean dry and wet deposition fluxes (mg/m2/day) of total phosphorous (TP) were 0.82 ± 0.23 and 0.13 ± 0.03 for non-hazy days and 7.89 ± 0.80 and 1.56 ± 0.65 for hazy days. The occurrences of higher concentrations of nutrients from atmospheric deposition during smoke haze episodes may have adverse consequences on receiving aquatic ecosystems with cascading impacts on water quality.

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