Decadal-scale relationship between measurements of aerosols, land-use change, and fire over Southeast Asia
Abstract. A simultaneous analysis of 13 years of remotely sensed data of land cover, fires, precipitation, and aerosols from the MODIS, TRMM, and MISR satellites and the AERONET network over Southeast Asia is performed, leading to a set of robust relationships between land-use change and fire being found on inter-annual and intra-annual scales over Southeast Asia, reflecting the heavy amounts of anthropogenic influence over land-use change and fires in this region of the world. First, we find that fires occur annually, but with a considerable amount of variance in their onset, duration, and intensity from year to year, and from two separate regions within Southeast Asia. Second, we show that a simple regression model of the land-cover, fire, and precipitation data can be used to recreate a robust representation of the timing and magnitude of measured aerosol optical depth (AOD) from multiple measurements sources of this region using either 8-day (better for onset and duration) or monthly (better for magnitude) measurements, but not daily measurements. We find that the reconstructed AOD matches the timing and intensity from AERONET measurements to within 70 to 90 % and the timing and intensity of MISR measurements to within 50 to 95 %. This is a unique finding in this part of the world since cloud-covered regions are large, yet the model is still robustly capable, including over regions where no fires are observed and hence no emissions would be expected to contribute to AOD. Third, we determine that while Southeast Asia is a source region of such intense smoke emissions, portions of it are also impacted by smoke transported from other regions. There are regions in northern Southeast Asia which have two annual AOD peaks, one during the local fire season and the other, smaller peak corresponding to a combination of some local smoke sources as well as transport of aerosols from fires in southern Southeast Asia and possibly even from anthropogenic sources in South Asia. Overall, this study highlights the importance of taking into account a simultaneous use of land-use, fire, and precipitation for understanding the impacts of fires on the atmospheric loading and distribution of aerosols in Southeast Asia over both space and time. Furthermore, it highlights that there are significant advantages of using 8-day and monthly average values (instead of daily data) in order to better quantify the magnitude and timing of Southeast Asia fires.