Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

NASA Data Link Indonesian Wildfire Flare-up To Recent El Nino

Date:
March 2, 2007
Source:
NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center
Summary:
Scientists using NASA satellite and rainfall data have linked the recent El Nino to the greatest rise in wildfire activity in Indonesia since the record-breaking 1997-98 El Nino.

Thick smoke from wildfires (gray haze) spreads across Sumatra and Indonesia on Nov. 5, 2006, as seen from the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer on NASA's Aqua satellite. Active fire locations are marked with red dots. (Credit: NASA)
Credit: NASA

Scientists using NASA satellite and rainfall data have linked the recent El Nino to the greatest rise in wildfire activity in Indonesia since the record-breaking 1997-98 El Nino.

El Nino is an abnormal warming of surface ocean waters in the eastern tropical Pacific, which often brings significant shifts in global weather patterns.

As rainfall sharply decreased during the last quarter of 2006 across the dense tropical rainforests of Sumatra, Kalimantan, and Malaysia, the land became exceptionally dry. This allowed wildfires to quickly spread, releasing large amounts of soot and tiny dust particles called aerosols that brought unhealthy pollution levels to the area.

The Measurements of Pollution in the Troposphere (MOPITT) instrument aboard NASA's Terra satellite tracked the wildfire pollution plumes as they spread from the Indonesian islands into the Indian Ocean from September through November 2006, and measured the associated increases in atmospheric carbon monoxide levels.

"Droughts over Indonesia are often brought on by a shift in the atmospheric circulation over the tropical Pacific associated with El Nino conditions," said David Edwards, MOPITT project leader at the National Center for Atmospheric Research, Boulder, Colo. "Although the current El Nino is rather weak compared to that of 1997-98, we have found dramatic increases in wildfire activity and corresponding pollution."

Using MOPITT, Edwards and his team noted a distinct spike in carbon monoxide levels across much of the Southern Hemisphere from the large number of Indonesian fires at the end of 2006, greater than that associated with any El Nino event since 1997-98. The recent increase in wildfires was also captured by another instrument, the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer, on NASA's Terra and Aqua satellites, while NASA's Global Precipitation Climatology Project confirmed a decline in Indonesian rainfall during the period.

Despite the number of factors that influence air quality across the region, wildfires play a very significant role. "Even though fires in South America and southern Africa typically produce the greatest amount of carbon monoxide, the pollution from Indonesian fires is likely responsible for most of the year-to-year variation in pollution levels throughout the Southern Hemisphere," Edwards said. Carbon monoxide is also involved in raising the concentration of ground-level "bad" ozone.

Some burning takes place every year in Indonesia, but the number and intensity of fires depends largely on rainfall and soil moisture conditions during the fire season, which usually runs September through November. Regional forest clearing practices also heighten the risk for wildfire development and spread. As lands are cleared, peat deposits - thick layers of partially decayed vegetation matter - build up. These deposits are vulnerable to wildfire and once ignited often result in a smoldering burn that releases copious amounts of smoke and carbon into the atmosphere until monsoon rains begin, typically in December.

"MOPITT is an especially valuable tool because it monitors carbon monoxide, a good indicator of pollution from combustion that remains in the atmosphere for several weeks, often traveling vast distances," said Edwards. "Fires also produce large relative changes in atmospheric carbon monoxide levels that are detected quite well by satellites, so that we can easily assess the impact of fires on air quality and pollution levels."

Carbon monoxide released from wildfires is a major player in regional air quality conditions, but significant amounts of carbon dioxide - the primary greenhouse gas - are also released. As a result, wildfires also have the potential to impact long-term climate.

The scientists are currently studying how they can use satellite data to examine Northern Hemisphere wildfire outbreaks and corresponding pollution increases due to periodic changes in weather patterns.


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 Data Link Indonesian Wildfire Flare-up To Recent El Nino." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 2 March 2007. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/03/070301102531.htm>.
NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center. (2007, March 2). NASA Data Link Indonesian Wildfire Flare-up To Recent El Nino. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 29, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/03/070301102531.htm
NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center. "NASA Data Link Indonesian Wildfire Flare-up To Recent El Nino." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/03/070301102531.htm (accessed July 29, 2014).

Share This




More Earth & Climate News

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Baluchistan Mining Eyes an Uncertain Future

Baluchistan Mining Eyes an Uncertain Future

AFP (July 29, 2014) — Coal mining is one of the major industries in Baluchistan but a lack of infrastructure and frequent accidents mean that the area has yet to hit its potential. Duration: 01:58 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
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

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