Carbon Release From Biomass Burning

Sam Iacobellis, Robert Frouin & Richard Somerville, Scripps Institution of Oceanography, UCSD

The images on this page illustrate the transport of carbon released from biomass burning fires on the African continent.

These images were created from data produced by a 3-dimensional global atmospheric transport model. The model utilizes analyzed wind fields from the ECMWF and includes parameterizations for convection and diffusion. The data from Hao et al.(1990) was used to estimate the amount of carbon released from the African biomass burning. All other sources of carbon (i.e., anthropogenic, net primary productivity, etc) have been removed.

The first animation sequence (click here) covers the time period from November 1 to March 1 and illustrates the low-level (970mb) propagation of the carbon released from biomass burning fires in Africa. The animation shows that at this level much of the carbon released from the African fires travels to the west towards South America.

The next animation sequence (click here) also covers the time period from November 1 to March 1. This sequence shows a cross-sectional view of the atmosphere extending from 10N, 70E (right hand side) to 10S, 90W (left hand side) and from the surface (bottom) up to 100 mb (top). Again the low-level westward propagation of the released carbon can be observed. This sequence also indicates that significant amounts of carbon are transported from the surface to higher altitudes by the process of convection.

This research work is included in an article submitted for publication in the Journal of Geophysical Research - Atmospheres entitled "Biomass Burning in the Savannas of North Africa and Atmospheric Carbon Dioxide" by Sam F. Iacobellis, Robert Frouin, Herisoa Razafimpanilo, and Richard C. J. Somerville.


Hao, W. M., M. Liu, and P. J. Crutzen, 1990: Estimates of annual and regional releases of CO2 and other trace gases to the atmosphere from fires in the tropics, based on the FAO statistics for the period 1975-1980, in "Fire in the Tropical Biota", edited by J. G. Goldammer, pp. 440-462, Springer-Verlag.

Please direct any comments or questions to:

Sam Iacobellis, Scripps Institution of Oceanography, University of California, San Diego, Mail Code 0224, La Jolla, CA 92093

(619) 534-3126

(619) 534-8561 FAX