EGU General Assembly 2020
© Author(s) 2020. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Airborne measurements of trace gas emissions from African biomass burning during the MOYA Campaign

Patrick Barker1, Grant Allen1, Thomas Bannan1, Joseph Pitt2, Stephane Bauguitte3, Euan Nisbet4, and James Lee5
Patrick Barker et al.
  • 1University of Manchester, Department of Earth and Environmental Science, United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland (
  • 2School of Marine and Atmospheric Sciences, 145 Endeavour Hall, Stony Brook University, Stony Brook, NY 11794-5000
  • 3Facility for Airborne Atmospheric Measurements (FAAM), Building 125, Cranfield University, Cranfield, Bedford, MK43 0AL, UK
  • 4Department of Earth Sciences, Royal Holloway, University of London, Egham, Surrey, UK
  • 5Wolfson Atmospheric Chemistry Laboratories, Department of Chemistry, University of York, Heslington, York YO10 5DD, UK

Biomass burning (BB) is known to contribute significantly to the global budgets of atmospheric trace gases and aerosols.  Approximately 1.6–4.1 Pg of CO2, 11–53 Tg CH4 and 0.1–0.3 Tg of N2O is emitted to the atmosphere per year as a result of biomass burning on a global scale (Crutzen and Andreae, 2016). The contribution of BB to global GHG budgets is likely to increase over time due to climate feedback of warming and more widespread drought conditions increasing the likelihood and spread of wildfire events (Liu et al., 2014).

It is estimated that Africa accounts for approximately 52% of all BB carbon emissions, with the Northern Sub-Saharan African region alone accounting for 20-25% of global BB carbon emissions (van der Werf et al. 2010; Ichoku et al. 2016). Many of these fires are anthropogenic in origin, and occur for reasons such as clearing land for agricultural use, management of natural savannah vegetation, or as pest control (Andreae, 1991).  Despite the African contribution to global BB emissions, there are limited in situ studies of African wildfire emissions.

In situ measurements of CH4, CO2 and N2O and CO in biomass burning plumes were carried out in Senegal in February 2017 and in Uganda in January 2019 during the Methane Observations and Yearly Assessments (MOYA) project. These observations were carried out using the Facility for Airborne Atmospheric Measurements BAe-146 Atmospheric Research Aircraft (ARA), which is fitted with a range of specialist instrumentation for in situ trace gas sampling. Emission factors for these species were calculated for both near-field and far-field biomass burning plumes. A notable difference in the linear trend between methane emission factors and completeness-of-combustion was identified between Senegalese and Ugandan fires.

How to cite: Barker, P., Allen, G., Bannan, T., Pitt, J., Bauguitte, S., Nisbet, E., and Lee, J.: Airborne measurements of trace gas emissions from African biomass burning during the MOYA Campaign, EGU General Assembly 2020, Online, 4–8 May 2020, EGU2020-15886,, 2020