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Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics An interactive open-access journal of the European Geosciences Union
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https://doi.org/10.5194/acp-2020-886
© Author(s) 2020. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.
https://doi.org/10.5194/acp-2020-886
© Author(s) 2020. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

  15 Sep 2020

15 Sep 2020

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This preprint is currently under review for the journal ACP.

Photochemical environment over Southeast Asia primed for hazardous ozone levels with influx of nitrogen oxides from seasonal biomass burning

Margaret R. Marvin1, Paul I. Palmer1,2, Barry G. Latter3,4, Richard Siddans3,4, Brian J. Kerridge3,4, Mohd Talib Latif5, and Md Firoz Khan6 Margaret R. Marvin et al.
  • 1National Centre for Earth Observation, University of Edinburgh, Edinburgh, UK
  • 2School of GeoSciences, University of Edinburgh, Edinburgh, UK
  • 3Remote Sensing Group, STFC Rutherford Appleton Laboratory, Chilton, UK
  • 4National Centre for Earth Observation, STFC Rutherford Appleton Laboratory, Chilton, UK
  • 5Department of Earth Sciences and Environment, Faculty of Science and Technology, Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia, Bangi, Malaysia
  • 6Department of Chemistry, Faculty of Science, Universiti Malaya, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

Abstract. Mainland and maritime Southeast Asia are home to more than 655 million people, representing nearly 10 % of the global population. The dry season in this region is typically associated with intense biomass burning activity, which leads to a significant increase in surface air pollutants that are harmful to human health, including ozone (O3). Latitude-based differences in dry season and land use distinguish two regional biomass burning regimes: (1) burning on the peninsular mainland peaking in March and (2) burning across Indonesia peaking in September. The type and amount of material burned in each regime impacts the emissions of nitrogen oxides (NOx = NO + NO2) and volatile organic compounds (VOCs), which combine to produce ozone. Here, we use the nested GEOS-Chem atmospheric chemistry transport model (horizontal resolution of 0.25° × 0.3125°), in combination with satellite observations from the Ozone Monitoring Instrument (OMI) and ground-based observations from Malaysia, to investigate ozone photochemistry over Southeast Asia in 2014. Seasonal cycles of tropospheric ozone columns from OMI and GEOS-Chem peak with biomass burning emissions. Compared to OMI, the model has a mean annual bias of −11 % but tends to overestimate tropospheric ozone near areas of seasonal fire activity. We find that outside of these burning areas, the underlying photochemical environment is generally NOx-limited, dominated by anthropogenic NOx and biogenic non-methane VOC emissions. Pyrogenic emissions of NOx play a key role in photochemistry, shifting towards more VOC-limited ozone production and contributing about 30 % of the regional ozone formation potential during both biomass burning seasons. Using the GEOS-Chem model, we find that biomass burning activity coincides with widespread ozone exposure at levels that exceed world public health guidelines, resulting in 272 premature deaths on mainland Southeast Asia in March of 2014 and another 273 deaths across Indonesia in September. Despite a positive model bias, hazardous ozone levels are confirmed by surface observations during both burning seasons.

Margaret R. Marvin et al.

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Margaret R. Marvin et al.

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Short summary
We use an atmospheric chemistry model in combination with satellite and surface observations to investigate how biomass burning affects tropospheric ozone over Southeast Asia during its fire seasons. We find that nitrogen oxides from biomass burning were responsible for about 30 % of the regional ozone formation potential, and we estimate that ozone from biomass burning caused about 550 excess premature deaths in Southeast Asia, during the peak burning months of March and September in 2014.
We use an atmospheric chemistry model in combination with satellite and surface observations to...
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