10 May 2023
 | 10 May 2023

Towards an improved understanding of wildfire CO emissions: a satellite remote-sensing perspective

Debora Griffin, Jack Chen, Kerry Anderson, Paul Makar, Chris A. McLinden, Enrico Dammers, and Andre Fogal

Abstract. Emissions from wildfires are a significant source of air pollution, which can adversely impact air quality and ecosystems thousands of kilometers downwind. These emissions can be estimated by a bottom-up approach, using inputs such fuel type, burned area, and standardized emission factors. Emissions are also commonly derived with a top-down approach, using satellite observed fire radiative power (FRP) as proxy for fuel consumption. More recently, wildfire emissions have been demonstrated to be estimated directly from satellite observations, including carbon monoxide (CO). Here, we explore the potential of satellite-derived CO emission rates from wildfires and provide new insights into the understanding of satellite-derived fire CO emissions globally, with respect to differences in regions and vegetation type. Specifically, we use the TROPOMI (Tropospheric Monitoring Instrument) high spatial-resolution satellite datasets to create a global inventory database of burning emissions CO emissions between 2019 and 2021. Our retrieval methodology includes an analysis of conditions under which emission estimates may be inaccurate and filters these accordingly. Additionally, we determine biome specific emission coefficients (emissions relative to FRP) and show how combining the satellite derived CO emissions with satellite observed FRP from the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectrometer (MODIS) establishes an annual CO emission budget from wildfires. The resulting emissions totals are compared to other top-down and bottom-up emission inventories over the past two decades. In general, the satellite-derived emissions inventory values and bottom-up emissions inventories have similar CO emissions totals across different global regions, though the discrepancies may be large for some regions (Southern Hemisphere South America, Southern Hemisphere Africa, Southeast Asia) and for some bottom-up inventories (e.g. FINN2.5, where CO emissions are a factor of 2 to 5 higher than other inventories). Overall, these estimates can help to validate emission inventories and predictive air quality models, and help to identify limitations present in existing bottom-up emissions inventory estimates.

Debora Griffin et al.

Status: final response (author comments only)

Comment types: AC – author | RC – referee | CC – community | EC – editor | CEC – chief editor | : Report abuse
  • RC1: 'Comment on egusphere-2023-649', Anonymous Referee #1, 01 Jun 2023
    • AC2: 'Reply on RC1', Debora Griffin, 29 Sep 2023
  • RC2: 'Comment on egusphere-2023-649', Anonymous Referee #2, 06 Jul 2023
    • AC1: 'Reply on RC2', Debora Griffin, 29 Sep 2023

Debora Griffin et al.

Debora Griffin et al.


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Short summary
Satellite-derived CO emissions provide new insights into the understanding of global CO emission rates from wildfires. We use TROPOMI satellite data to create a global inventory database of wildfire CO emissions. These satellite-derived wildfire emissions are used for the evaluation and improvement of existing fire emission inventories, and to examine how the wildfire CO emissions changed over the past two decades.