11 Feb 2022
11 Feb 2022
Status: this preprint is currently under review for the journal ACP.

South American regional smoke plume in recent years: main sources and impact on solar radiation focusing on the Pantanal 2020 biomass burning season

Nilton Évora do Rosário1, Elisa Thomé Sena2, and Marcia Akemi Yamasoe3 Nilton Évora do Rosário et al.
  • 1Departamento de Ciências Ambientais, Universidade Federal de São Paulo, Diadema, Brazil
  • 2Departamento Multidisciplinar, Universidade Federal de São Paulo, Osasco, Brazil
  • 3Departamento de Ciências Atmosféricas, Instituto de Astronomia, Geofísica e Ciências Atmosféricas, Universidade de São Paulo, São Paulo, Brazil

Abstract. The 2020 biomass burning season in Brazil was marked by an unprecedented amount of fire counts across the Pantanal biome, which led to high levels of air pollution within the biome and downwind areas. Large amount of fire counts was also detected in the Amazon Forest during 2020 compared with the recent years. However, the contribution of Pantanal fire emissions to the regional smoke plume was speculated to rival the contribution of fire emissions from Amazon. Aiming to contextualise the 2020 biomass burning season focusing on the unprecedented role of Pantanal, the present study's main goal is to analyse the recent biomass burning seasons in Brazil looking at the fire counts, the regional smoke plume and its impact on surface solar radiation (SSR). The focus is on the biomes most affected by the recent biomass burning events, Amazon forest, Cerrado and especially Pantanal. To characterise the regional smoke plume we analysed aerosol optical depth, single scattering albedo and its impact on the solar radiation reaching the surface. The influence of interannual variability of the wind at 850 hPa on the transport of the regional smoke plumes was also explored. In 2020, the regional smoke plume covered an area well above 6 million km2, the largest area in the last six years, but equivalent to the observed in a more remote past, as in 2007 and 2010. However, from the point of view of Pantanal, 2020 was an unprecedented year, not due to the amount of smoke over the biome, but regarding the biome contribution to the regional smoke plume. The number of fire counts was 3.4 times higher than the mean value considering the period from 2003 to 2020. The entire biome was continuously covered by a thick smoke layer from September to October, which resulted in a monthly mean deficit of surface solar radiation up to 300 Wm−2. Additionally, the 2020 regional smoke plume presented higher optical absorption when compared with the recent years plumes, which could be related to the Pantanal larger fire emission. However, current knowledge on optical and radiative properties of smoke aerosols from Pantanal is limited compared to the one resultant from Amazon and Cerrado fire emissions, which prevent a definitive conclusion.

Nilton Évora do Rosário et al.

Status: final response (author comments only)

Comment types: AC – author | RC – referee | CC – community | EC – editor | CEC – chief editor | : Report abuse
  • RC1: 'Comment on acp-2021-1086', Lorraine Remer, 28 Feb 2022
  • RC2: 'Comment on acp-2021-1086', Anonymous Referee #1, 04 Mar 2022

Nilton Évora do Rosário et al.

Nilton Évora do Rosário et al.


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Short summary
Brazil 2020 biomass burning was a singular one, almost half of Pantanal biome was burned, which caused a significant loss of biodiversity and important climate impacts, whose effects are yet to be fully evaluated. The fire counts in Pantanal were 3.4 times higher than the usually seen. A shift in the regional smoke plume center mass toward Pantanal was observed. Another relevant aspect is that the beginning of the 2020 dry-to-wet season over Pantanal was the most as polluted in 18 years.