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 September 22, 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 September 22, 2014).

Share This



More Earth & Climate News

Monday, September 22, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Will Climate Rallies Spur Change?

Will Climate Rallies Spur Change?

Newsy (Sep. 21, 2014) — Organizers of the People's Climate March and other rallies taking place in 166 countries hope to move U.N. officials to action ahead of their summit. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Thousands March in NYC Over Climate Change

Thousands March in NYC Over Climate Change

AP (Sep. 21, 2014) — Accompanied by drumbeats, wearing costumes and carrying signs, thousands of demonstrators filled the streets of Manhattan and other cities around the world on Sunday to urge policy makers to take action on climate change. (Sept. 21) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Climate Change Rally Held in India Ahead of UN Summit

Climate Change Rally Held in India Ahead of UN Summit

AFP (Sep. 20, 2014) — Some 125 world leaders are expected to commit to action on climate change at a UN summit Tuesday called to inject momentum in struggling efforts to tackle global warming. Duration: 00:41 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
New Music With Recycled Instruments at Colombia Fest

New Music With Recycled Instruments at Colombia Fest

AFP (Sep. 19, 2014) — Jars, bottles, caps and even a pizza box, recovered from the trash, were the elements used by four musical groups at the "RSFEST2014 Sonorities Recycling Festival", in Colombian city of Cali. Duration: 00:49 Video provided by AFP
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