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Australian Fires 2019–2020: Tropospheric and Stratospheric Pollution Throughout the Whole Fire Season

Abstract : The historically large and severe wildfires in Australia from September 2019 to March 2020 are known to have injected a smoke plume into the stratosphere around New Year, due to pyro-cumulonimbus (pyro-Cb) activity, that was subsequently distributed throughout the Southern Hemisphere (SH). We show with satellite, ground based remote sensing, and in situ observations that the fires before New Year, had already a substantial impact on the SH atmosphere, starting as early as September 2019, with subsequent long-range transport of trace gas plumes in the upper-troposphere. Airborne in situ measurements above Southern Argentina in November 2019 show elevated CO mixing ratios at an altitude of 11 km and can be traced back using FLEXPART trajectories to the Australian fires in mid-November 2019. Ground based solar-FTS (Fourier Transform Spectroscopy) observations of biomass burning tracers CO, HCN and C 2 H 6 at Lauder, South Island, New Zealand show enhanced tropospheric columns already starting in September 2019. In MLS observations averaged over 30°–60°S, enhanced CO mixing ratios compared to previous years become visible in late October 2019 only at and below the 147 hPa pressure level. Peak differences are found with satellite and ground-based observations for all altitude levels in the Southern Hemisphere in January. With still increased aerosol values following the Ulawun eruption in 2019, averaged satellite observations show no clear stratospheric and upper-tropospheric aerosol enhancements from the Australian fires, before the pyro-Cb events at the end of December 2019. However, with the clear enhancement of fire tracers, we suggest the period September to December 2019 (prior to the major pyro-Cb events) should be taken into account in terms of fire pollutant emissions when studying the impact of the Australian fires on the SH atmosphere.
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Submitted on : Tuesday, December 7, 2021 - 3:42:14 PM
Last modification on : Tuesday, May 10, 2022 - 3:24:57 PM


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Corinna Kloss, Pasquale Sellitto, Marc von Hobe, Gwenaël Berthet, Dan Smale, et al.. Australian Fires 2019–2020: Tropospheric and Stratospheric Pollution Throughout the Whole Fire Season. Frontiers in Environmental Science, Frontiers, 2021, 9, ⟨10.3389/fenvs.2021.652024⟩. ⟨insu-03469261⟩



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