Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics, vol. 13, issue 13 (2013) pp. 6239-6261
We describe the design and execution of the BORTAS (Quantifying the impact of BOReal forest fires on Tropospheric oxidants over the Atlantic using Aircraft and Satellites) experiment, which has the overarching objective of understanding the chemical aging of air masses that contain the emission products from seasonal boreal wildfires and how these air masses subsequently impact downwind atmospheric composition. The central focus of the experiment was a two-week deployment of the UK BAe-146-301 Atmospheric Research Aircraft (ARA) over eastern Canada, based out of Halifax, Nova Scotia. Atmospheric ground-based and sonde measurements over Canada and the Azores associated with the planned July 2010 deployment of the ARA, which was postponed by 12 months due to UK-based flights related to the dispersal of material emitted by the Eyjafjallajokull volcano, went ahead and constituted phase A of the experiment. Phase B of BORTAS in July 2011 involved the same atmospheric measurements, but included the ARA, special satellite observations and a more comprehensive ground-based measurement suite. The high-frequency aircraft data provided a comprehensive chemical snapshot of pyrogenic plumes from wildfires, corresponding to photochemical ( and physical) ages ranging from < 1 day to greater than or similar to 10 days, largely by virtue of widespread fires over Northwestern Ontario. Airborne measurements reported a large number of emitted gases including semi-volatile species, some of which have not been been previously reported in pyrogenic plumes, with the corresponding emission ratios agreeing with previous work for common gases. Analysis of the NOy data shows evidence of net ozone production in pyrogenic plumes, controlled by aerosol abundance, which increases as a function of photochemical age. The coordinated ground-based and sonde data provided detailed but spatially limited information that put the aircraft data into context of the longer burning season in the boundary layer. Ground-based measurements of particulate matter smaller than 2.5 mu m ( PM2.5) over Halifax show that forest fires can on an episodic basis represent a substantial contribution to total surface PM2.5.
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