Articles | Volume 15, issue 5
Research article
10 Mar 2015
Research article |  | 10 Mar 2015

Biomass burning related ozone damage on vegetation over the Amazon forest: a model sensitivity study

F. Pacifico, G. A. Folberth, S. Sitch, J. M. Haywood, L. V. Rizzo, F. F. Malavelle, and P. Artaxo

Abstract. The HadGEM2 earth system climate model was used to assess the impact of biomass burning on surface ozone concentrations over the Amazon forest and its impact on vegetation, under present-day climate conditions. Here we consider biomass burning emissions from wildfires, deforestation fires, agricultural forest burning, and residential and commercial combustion. Simulated surface ozone concentration is evaluated against observations taken at two sites in the Brazilian Amazon forest for years 2010 to 2012. The model is able to reproduce the observed diurnal cycle of surface ozone mixing ratio at the two sites, but overestimates the magnitude of the monthly averaged hourly measurements by 5–15 ppb for each available month at one of the sites. We vary biomass burning emissions over South America by ±20, 40, 60, 80 and 100% to quantify the modelled impact of biomass burning on surface ozone concentrations and ozone damage on vegetation productivity over the Amazon forest. We used the ozone damage scheme in the "high" sensitivity mode to give an upper limit for this effect. Decreasing South American biomass burning emissions by 100% (i.e. to zero) reduces surface ozone concentrations (by about 15 ppb during the biomass burning season) and suggests a 15% increase in monthly mean net primary productivity averaged over the Amazon forest, with local increases up to 60%. The simulated impact of ozone damage from present-day biomass burning on vegetation productivity is about 230 TgC yr−1. Taking into account that uncertainty in these estimates is substantial, this ozone damage impact over the Amazon forest is of the same order of magnitude as the release of carbon dioxide due to fire in South America; in effect it potentially doubles the impact of biomass burning on the carbon cycle.

Final-revised paper