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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Continental-scale partitioning of fire emissions during the 1997 to 2001 El Niño/La Niña period.

  • Author(s): van der Werf, Guido R
  • Randerson, James T
  • Collatz, G James
  • Giglio, Louis
  • Kasibhatla, Prasad S
  • Arellano, Avelino F
  • Olsen, Seth C
  • Kasischke, Eric S
  • et al.

During the 1997 to 1998 El Niño, drought conditions triggered widespread increases in fire activity, releasing CH4 and CO2 to the atmosphere. We evaluated the contribution of fires from different continents to variability in these greenhouse gases from 1997 to 2001, using satellite-based estimates of fire activity, biogeochemical modeling, and an inverse analysis of atmospheric CO anomalies. During the 1997 to 1998 El Niño, the fire emissions anomaly was 2.1 +/- 0.8 petagrams of carbon, or 66 +/- 24% of the CO2 growth rate anomaly. The main contributors were Southeast Asia (60%), Central and South America (30%), and boreal regions of Eurasia and North America (10%).

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