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Volume 18, issue 5
Atmos. Chem. Phys., 18, 3717-3735, 2018
https://doi.org/10.5194/acp-18-3717-2018
© Author(s) 2018. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.
Atmos. Chem. Phys., 18, 3717-3735, 2018
https://doi.org/10.5194/acp-18-3717-2018
© Author(s) 2018. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Research article 14 Mar 2018

Research article | 14 Mar 2018

Emissions of trace gases from Australian temperate forest fires: emission factors and dependence on modified combustion efficiency

Elise-Andrée Guérette1, Clare Paton-Walsh1, Maximilien Desservettaz1, Thomas E. L. Smith2,3, Liubov Volkova4, Christopher J. Weston4, and Carl P. Meyer5 Elise-Andrée Guérette et al.
  • 1Centre for Atmospheric Chemistry, School of Chemistry, University of Wollongong, Wollongong, NSW, Australia
  • 2Department of Geography and Environment, London School of Economics and Political Science, London, UK
  • 3Department of Geography, King's College London, London, UK
  • 4School of Ecosystem and Forest Sciences, the University of Melbourne, Creswick, VIC, Australia
  • 5CSIRO Oceans and Atmosphere Flagship, Aspendale, VIC, Australia

Abstract. We characterised trace gas emissions from Australian temperate forest fires through a mixture of open-path Fourier transform infrared (OP-FTIR) measurements and selective ion flow tube mass spectrometry (SIFT-MS) and White cell FTIR analysis of grab samples. We report emission factors for a total of 25 trace gas species measured in smoke from nine prescribed fires. We find significant dependence on modified combustion efficiency (MCE) for some species, although regional differences indicate that the use of MCE as a proxy may be limited. We also find that the fire-integrated MCE values derived from our in situ on-the-ground open-path measurements are not significantly different from those reported for airborne measurements of smoke from fires in the same ecosystem. We then compare our average emission factors to those measured for temperate forest fires elsewhere (North America) and for fires in another dominant Australian ecosystem (savanna) and find significant differences in both cases. Indeed, we find that although the emission factors of some species agree within 20%, including those of hydrogen cyanide, ethene, methanol, formaldehyde and 1,3-butadiene, others, such as acetic acid, ethanol, monoterpenes, ammonia, acetonitrile and pyrrole, differ by a factor of 2 or more. This indicates that the use of ecosystem-specific emission factors is warranted for applications involving emissions from Australian forest fires.

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We characterised trace gas emissions from Australian temperate forest fires through measurements at nine prescribed fires. We find that smoke from Australian forest fires is different from that of American forest fires, and different from Australian savanna fires. This will impact plume chemistry and influence air quality outcomes downwind of the fires. We therefore recommend the use of data specific to Australian forest fires when studying the impacts of these fires on air quality and health.
We characterised trace gas emissions from Australian temperate forest fires through measurements...
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