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Volume 13, issue 13 | Copyright

Special issue: Quantifying the impact of Boreal fires on tropospheric oxidants...

Atmos. Chem. Phys., 13, 6239-6261, 2013
© Author(s) 2013. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License.

Research article 01 Jul 2013

Research article | 01 Jul 2013

Quantifying the impact of BOReal forest fires on Tropospheric oxidants over the Atlantic using Aircraft and Satellites (BORTAS) experiment: design, execution and science overview

P. I. Palmer1, M. Parrington1, J. D. Lee2, A. C. Lewis2, A. R. Rickard3,*, P. F. Bernath2,**, T. J. Duck4, D. L. Waugh5, D. W. Tarasick6, S. Andrews7, E. Aruffo8,9, L. J. Bailey4, E. Barrett1, S. J.-B. Bauguitte10, K. R. Curry4, P. Di Carlo8,9, L. Chisholm5, L. Dan11, G. Forster12, J. E. Franklin4, M. D. Gibson13, D. Griffin11, D. Helmig14, J. R. Hopkins2, J. T. Hopper4, M. E. Jenkin15, D. Kindred16, J. Kliever11, M. Le Breton17, S. Matthiesen1, M. Maurice11, S. Moller2, D. P. Moore18, D. E. Oram12, S. J. O'Shea17, R. C. Owen19, C. M. L. S. Pagniello4, S. Pawson18, C. J. Percival17, J. R. Pierce4, S. Punjabi7, R. M. Purvis2, J. J. Remedios18, K. M. Rotermund4, K. M. Sakamoto4, A. M. da Silva20, K. B. Strawbridge6, K. Strong11, J. Taylor17, R. Trigwell1, K. A. Tereszchuk7, K. A. Walker11, D. Weaver11, C. Whaley11, and J. C. Young3 P. I. Palmer et al.
  • 1School of GeoSciences, University of Edinburgh, Edinburgh, UK
  • 2National Centre for Atmospheric Science (NCAS), Department of Chemistry, University of York, York, UK
  • 3National Centre for Atmospheric Science (NCAS), School of Chemistry, University of Leeds, Leeds, UK
  • 4Department of Physics and Atmospheric Science, Dalhousie University, Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada
  • 5Meteorological Service of Canada, Dartmouth, Nova Scotia, Canada
  • 6Environment Canada, Toronto, Ontario, Canada
  • 7Department of Chemistry, University of York, York, UK
  • 8Center of Excellence CETEMPS, University of L'Aquila, L'Aquila, Italy
  • 9Department of Physical and Chemical Sciences, University of L'Aquila, L'Aquila, Italy
  • 10Facility for Airborne Atmospheric Measurements, Bedford, UK
  • 11Department of Physics, University of Toronto, Toronto, Ontario, Canada
  • 12National Centre for Atmospheric Science (NCAS), School of Environmental Sciences, University of East Anglia, Norwich, UK
  • 13Department of Process Engineering and Applied Science, Dalhousie University, Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada
  • 14Institute of Arctic and Alpine Research, University of Colorado, Boulder CO, USA
  • 15Atmospheric Chemistry Services, Okehampton, Devon, UK
  • 16UK Meteorological Office, Exeter, UK
  • 17School of Earth, Atmospheric and Environmental Sciences, University of Manchester, Manchester, UK
  • 18Department of Physics and Astronomy, University of Leicester, Leicester, UK
  • 19Department of Geological and Mining Engineering Sciences, Michigan Technological University, Houghton, MI, USA
  • 20Global Modeling and Assimilation Office, NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, MD, USA
  • *now at: National Centre for Atmospheric Science (NCAS), Department of Chemistry, University of York, York, UK
  • **now at: Department of Chemistry & Biochemistry, Old Dominion University, Norfolk VA, USA

Abstract. 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 Eyjafjallajökull 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 ~<45 sr 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 μm (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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