Research - Aerosols and Climate - Biomass Burning

Each year in the tropics extensive areas of the forests and savannas are burnt for agricultural purposes and to accommodate the needs of the expanding population.. The permanent removal of forests are replaced with grazing or crop land while the land cleared for agricultural purposes are primarily used for shifting agriculture. Biomass burning is concentrated between July-October in the Southern hemisphere, and between December-April in the northern hemisphere. In recent years, the effects of biomass burning on a global and regional scale has received due attention because of its effects on atmospheric chemistry ; radiation budget; increasing greenhouse gases; loss of biodiversity; decreasing evapotranspiration and rainfall from altered general circulation pattern; increasing surface albedo and runoff and spread of plant and human diseases via colonization. The wide variety of satellite remote sensing data from current and future instruments can be used to address these issues.

The major goal of our research is to detect fires from satellite imagery, develop algorithms for mapping smoke from these fires and studying the radiative impact of these aerosols using a combination of satellite, insitu and numerical simulations.

We have used data sets in several biomass burning field experiments such as SCAR-B, ZIBBEE and SAFARI filed campaigns.

For further information

Christopher, S. A., D.V. Kliche, J. Chou, and R.M. Welch, First Estimates of the Radiative Forcing of Aerosols Generated from Biomass burning Using Satellite Data. J. Geophys. Res., 101, D16, 21265-21273, (pdf file).
Christopher, S.A, D.V. Kiche, and R.M. Welch, AVHRR and ERBE investigations of biomass burning in the tropics, to appear in Global Biomass Burning, Ed, J.S. Levine, MIT Press, 1996.
Christopher, S.A., and J. Chou, The potential of the AVHRR GAC land Pathfinder data for aerosol and earth radiation budget studies. Int. J. Rem. Sensing, 18(12), 2657-2676, 1997. (pdf version).
Kaufman, Y.J., P. V. Hobbs, V.W.J.H. Kirchoff, P. Artaxo, L.A. Remer, B.N. Holben, M.D. Ki ng, E.M. Prins, D.E. Ward, K.M. Longo, L. F. Mattos, C.A. Nobre, J.D. Spinhirne, Q. Ji, A.M. Thompson, J.F. Gleason, S.A. Christopher, and S.C. Tsay. The Smoke, Clouds and Radiation Experiment in Brazil (SCAR-B). J. Geophys. Res., 103, D24, 31, 783-31808, 1998. (pdf version)
Christopher, S.A., M. Wang, T.A. Berendes, R. M. Welch, and S.K. Yang, The 1985 biomass burning season in South America: Satellite Remote Sensing of fires, smoke, and regional radiative energy budgets. J. Appl. Meteor., 37, 661-678, 1998. (July, 1998) (pdf version)
***Photo credit:Picture at top taken by John McColgan of Fairbanks Alaska at Bitterroot NationaForest in Montana on August 6 ,2003