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Characterization of wildfire NOx emissions using MODIS fire radiative power and OMI tropospheric NO2 columns

by A K Mebust, A R Russell, R C Hudman, L C Valin, R C Cohen
Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics ()


We use observations of fire radiative power (FRP) from the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) and tropospheric NO2 column measurements from the Ozone Monitoring Instrument (OMI) to derive NO2 wildfire emission coefficients (gMJ(-1)) for three land types over California and Nevada. Retrieved emission coefficients were 0.279 +/- 0.077, 0.342 +/- 0.053, and 0.696 +/- 0.088 g MJ(-1) NO2 for forest, grass and shrub fuels, respectively. These emission coefficients reproduce ratios of emissions with fuel type reported previously using independent methods. However, the magnitude of these coefficients is lower than prior estimates. While it is possible that a negative bias in the OMI NO2 retrieval over regions of active fire emissions is partly responsible, comparison with several other studies of fire emissions using satellite platforms indicates that current emission factors may overestimate the contributions of flaming combustion and underestimate the contributions of smoldering combustion to total fire emissions. Our results indicate that satellite data can provide an extensive characterization of the variability in fire NOx emissions; 67% of the variability in emissions in this region can be accounted for using an FRP-based parameterization.

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