Articles | Volume 12, issue 4
Atmos. Chem. Phys., 12, 2117–2147, 2012
Atmos. Chem. Phys., 12, 2117–2147, 2012

Research article 27 Feb 2012

Research article | 27 Feb 2012

Multi-scale meteorological conceptual analysis of observed active fire hotspot activity and smoke optical depth in the Maritime Continent

J. S. Reid1, P. Xian2, E. J. Hyer1, M. K. Flatau1, E. M. Ramirez3,*, F. J. Turk4, C. R. Sampson1, C. Zhang5, E. M. Fukada6, and E. D. Maloney7 J. S. Reid et al.
  • 1Marine Meteorology Division, Naval Research Laboratory, Monterey CA, USA
  • 2ASEE Fellow, Naval Research Laboratory, Monterey CA, USA
  • 3Dept. of Atmospheric Science, University of Utah, Salt Lake City, UH, USA
  • 4Jet Propulsion laboratory, Pasadena, CA, USA
  • 5Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science, University of Miami, Miami, FL, USA
  • 6Joint Typhoon Warning Center, Pearl Harbor, HI, USA
  • 7Dept. of Atmospheric Science, Colorado State University, Ft. Collins, CO, USA
  • *now at: SSAI, Camp Springs, MD, USA

Abstract. Much research and speculation exists about the meteorological and climatological impacts of biomass burning in the Maritime Continent (MC) of Indonesia and Malaysia, particularly during El Nino events. However, the MC hosts some of the world's most complicated meteorology, and we wish to understand how tropical phenomena at a range of scales influence observed burning activity. Using Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) derived active fire hotspot patterns coupled with aerosol data assimilation products, satellite based precipitation, and meteorological indices, the meteorological context of observed fire prevalence and smoke optical depth in the MC are examined. Relationships of burning and smoke transport to such meteorological and climatic factors as the interannual El Nino-Southern Oscillation (ENSO), El Nino Modoki, Indian Ocean Dipole (IOD), the seasonal migration of the Intertropical Convergence Zone, the 30–90 day Madden Julian Oscillation (MJO), tropical waves, tropical cyclone activity, and diurnal convection were investigated. A conceptual model of how all of the differing meteorological scales affect fire activity is presented. Each island and its internal geography have different sensitivities to these factors which are likely relatable to precipitation patterns and land use practices. At the broadest scales as previously reported, we corroborate ENSO is indeed the largest factor. However, burning is also enhanced by periods of El Nino Modoki. Conversely, IOD influences are unclear. While interannual phenomena correlate to total seasonal burning, the MJO largely controls when visible burning occurs. High frequency phenomena which are poorly constrained in models such as diurnal convection and tropical cyclone activity also have an impact which cannot be ignored. Finally, we emphasize that these phenomena not only influence burning, but also the observability of burning, further complicating our ability to assign reasonable emissions.

Final-revised paper