Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

NASA Ties El Nino Induced Drought To Record Air Pollution From Fires

Date:
April 4, 2003
Source:
NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center
Summary:
Scientists using NASA satellite data have found the most intense global pollution from fires occurred during droughts caused by El Nino. The most intense fires took place in 1997-1998 in association with the strongest El Nino event of the 20th century.

Scientists using NASA satellite data have found the most intense global pollution from fires occurred during droughts caused by El Nino. The most intense fires took place in 1997-1998 in association with the strongest El Nino event of the 20th century.

Bryan Duncan, Randall Martin, Amanda Staudt, Rosemarie Yevich and Jennifer Logan, from Harvard University, used data observed by NASA's Total Ozone Mapping Spectrometer (TOMS) satellite to quantify the amount of smoke pollution from biomass burning over 20 years.

"It's important to study biomass burning, because those fires produce as much pollution as use of fossil fuels. Most of the pollution from fires is produced in the tropics, while pollution from fossil fuel use occurs in North America, Europe and Asia," Logan said.

One of the missions of NASA's Earth Science Enterprise, which partially funded the research, is to learn how the Earth system responds to natural and human-induced changes, such as droughts and worldwide fires caused by El Nino. NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Md, developed the smoke data, the unique Aerosol Index product from the TOMS satellite.

The Harvard scientists recently published a study in the Journal of Geophysical Research — Atmospheres that describes how they combined the Aerosol Index data from TOMS with Scanning Radiometer and Sounder (ASTR) fire count data from the European Space Agency's European Remote Sensing-2 satellite.

The study assessed the effects of the 1997-1998 El Nino events on global biomass burning. They concluded biomass burning around the world was unusually high during the 1997-1998 El Nino, greater than in any other period between 1979 and 2000. The amount of carbon monoxide emitted in 1997 and 1998 was about 30 percent higher than the amount emitted from worldwide motor vehicle and fossil fuel combustion.

"We found that fires typically produce the most pollution in Southeast Asia in March, in northern Africa in January and February, and in southern Africa and Brazil in August and September," Logan said. During the El Nino of 1997-1998, Indonesia, Mexico, and Central America experienced extreme droughts, and forest fires raged out of control.

The smoke from the fires in Mexico and Central America was blown northward in May 1998, worsening air-quality and reducing visibility over much of the eastern United States. The fires in Indonesia burned tropical forests over an area equivalent to the size of southern New England and released enormous amounts of pollutants. The team estimated the Indonesian fires produced about 170 million metric tons of carbon monoxide, which equals about one-third of the carbon monoxide annually released from fossil fuels.

Biomass burning is the combustion of both living and dead vegetation. It includes fires generated both by lightning and human activity. Humans are responsible for about 90 percent of biomass burning, with only a small percentage of natural fires contributing to the total amount of vegetation burned.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center. "NASA Ties El Nino Induced Drought To Record Air Pollution From Fires." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 4 April 2003. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2003/04/030404071742.htm>.
NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center. (2003, April 4). NASA Ties El Nino Induced Drought To Record Air Pollution From Fires. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 28, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2003/04/030404071742.htm
NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center. "NASA Ties El Nino Induced Drought To Record Air Pollution From Fires." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2003/04/030404071742.htm (accessed July 28, 2014).

Share This




More Earth & Climate News

Monday, July 28, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Asteroid's Timing Was 'Colossal Bad Luck' For The Dinosaurs

Asteroid's Timing Was 'Colossal Bad Luck' For The Dinosaurs

Newsy (July 28, 2014) — The asteroid that killed the dinosaurs struck at the worst time for them. A new study says that if it hit earlier or later, they might've survived. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
The Carbon Trap: US Exports Global Warming

The Carbon Trap: US Exports Global Warming

AP (July 28, 2014) — AP Investigation: As the Obama administration weans the country off dirty fuels, energy companies are ramping-up overseas coal exports at a heavy price. (July 28) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Raw: Sea Turtle Hatchlings Emerge from Nest

Raw: Sea Turtle Hatchlings Emerge from Nest

AP (July 27, 2014) — A live-streaming webcam catches loggerhead sea turtle hatchlings emerging from a nest in the Florida Keys. (July 27) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Trees Could Save More Than 850 Lives Each Year

Trees Could Save More Than 850 Lives Each Year

Newsy (July 27, 2014) — A national study conducted by the USDA Forest Service found that trees collectively save more than 850 lives on an annual basis. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
 
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:  

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:  

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile iPhone Android Web
Follow Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins