Mega fire emissions in Siberia: Potential supply of bioavailable iron from forests to the ocean

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Significant amounts of carbon and nutrients are released to the atmosphere due to large fires in forests. Characterization of the spatial distribution and temporal variation of the intense fire emissions is crucial for assessing the atmospheric loadings of aerosols and trace gases. This paper discusses issues of the representation of forest fires in the estimation of emissions and the application to an atmospheric chemistry transport model (CTM). The potential contribution of forest fires to the deposition of soluble iron (Fe) into the ocean is highlighted, with a focus on mega fires in eastern Siberia. Satellite products of burned area, active fire, and land cover are used to estimate biomass burning emissions in conjunction with a biogeochemical model. Satellite-derived plume height from MISR is used for the injection height of boreal forest fire emissions. This methodology is applied to quantify fire emission rates in each three-dimensional grid location in the high latitude Northern Hemisphere (> 30° N latitude) over a 5-year period from 2001 to 2005. There is large interannual variation in forest burned area during 2001-2005 (13-51 × 103 km2 yr-1) which results in a corresponding variation in the annual emissions of carbon monoxide (CO) (12-78 Tg CO yr-1). Satellite observations of CO from MOPITT are used to evaluate the model performance in simulating the spatial distribution and temporal variation of the fire emissions. During the major Siberian fire seasons in the summer of 2002 and in the spring of 2003, the model results for CO enhancements due to intense fires are in good agreement with MOPITT observations. These fire emission rates are applied to the aerosol chemistry transport model to examine the relative importance of biomass burning sources of soluble iron compared to those from dust sources. Compared to the dust sources without the atmospheric processing by acidic species, extreme fire events contribute to a significant deposition of soluble iron (10-60%) to downwind regions over the western North Pacific Ocean. It may imply that the supply of nutrients from large forest fires plays a role as a negative biosphere-climate feedback with regards to the ocean fertilization.

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