Contribution of biomass fires to black carbon supply in a tropical river basin assessed using a Lagrangian atmospheric transport model and MODIS burned area product

Matthew Jones, T.A. Quine, Carlos E. de Rezende, Thorsten Dittmar, Luiz E. O. C. Aragão

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Black carbon (BC) is known to be a potential sink of carbon for the global carbon cycle, particularly if long-term ocean stores are reached. Fluvial transport to the oceans can occur through the dissolution of BC in river water. Evidence from the Paraiba do Sul river basin, Brazil suggests that river DBC concentration is related to charcoal formed during the deforestation of the Brazilian Atlantic Forest. However, we highlight several key potential sources of BC to the basin that are yet to be considered. We hypothesize that external biomass fires are a source of BC to the basin on the basis that BC released from them can be transported over large distances before being deposited. This hypothesis is tested by quantifying the number of biomass fires intercepted by trajectories en route to the basin using the HYSPLIT model and a MODIS burned area dataset. We then create a Black Carbon Fallout Index (BCFI) which is rationalized by our assumption that atmospheric BC delivery to the basin is proportional to the number of interceptions of air masses en route to the basin. Our results suggest that the BC fallout from air masses reaching the basin in the dry season can explain 50% of the variance in DBC measured in the PSR channel during a subsequent collection campaign (p<.001). Spatial and temporal variations in the supply of BC to the basin throughout the dry season may in part be linked to the fires associated with the cultivation of sugarcane in southeast Brazil.
Original languageMultiple languages
Title of host publicationAnais XVI Simpósio Brasileiro de Sensoriamento Remoto - SBSR
PublisherInstituto Nacional de Pesquisas Espaciais
Publication statusPublished - 18 Apr 2013

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