South American Biomass Burning Analysis (SAMBBA)

Lead Research Organisation: King's College London
Department Name: Geography


Biomass burning aerosol (BBA) exerts a considerable impact on regional radiation budgets as it significantly perturbs the surface fluxes and atmospheric heating rates and its CCN properties perturb cloud microphysics and hence affect cloud radiative properties, precipitation and cloud lifetime. It is likely that such large influences on heating rates and CCN will affect regional weather predictions in addition to climatic changes. It is increasingly recognised that biomass burning affects the biosphere but the magnitude of the effects need to quantified. However, BBA is a complex and poorly understood aerosol species because of the mixing of the black carbon with organic and inorganic species. Furthermore, emission rates are poorly quantified and difficult to represent in models.
It is now timely to address these challenges as both measurement methods and model capabilities have developed rapidly over the last few years and are now sufficiently advanced that the processes and properties of BBA can be sufficiently constrained by measurements; these can be used to challenge the new aerosol schemes used in numerical weather prediction (NWP) and climate models.
Amazonia is one of the most important biomass burning regions in the world, being significantly impacted by intense biomass burning during the dry season leading to highly turbid conditions, and is therefore a key environment for quantifying these processes and determining the influence of these interactions on the weather and climate of the region. Though previous large scale studies of BBA over Amazonia and its radiative impacts have been performed, these are now over a decade old and considerable scientific progress can be made towards addressing all of the above questions given the rapid advance of models and measurements in recent years. We are therefore proposing a major consortium programme, SAMBBA, a consortium of 7 university partners and the UK Met Office, which will deliver a suite of ground, aircraft and satellite measurements of Amazonian BBA and use this data to 1) improve our knowledge of BB emissions; 2) challenge and improve the latest aerosol process models; 3) challenge and improve satellite retrievals; 4) test predictions of aerosol influences on regional climate and weather over Amazonia and the surrounding regions made using the next generation of climate and NWP models with extensive prognostic aerosol schemes; and 5) assess the impact of .biomass burning on the Amazonian biosphere.
The main field experiment will take place during September 2012 and is based in Porto Vehlo, Brazil. At this time of year, widespread burning takes place across the region leading to highly turbid conditions. The UK large research aircraft (FAAM) will be used to sample aerosol chemical, physical and optical properties and gas phase precursor concentrations. Measurements of radiation will also be made using advanced radiometers on board the aircraft and satellite data will also be utilised.
The influences of biomass burning aerosols are highly significant at local, weather, seasonal, and climate temporal scales necessitating the use of a hierarchy of models to establish and test key processes and quantify impacts. We will challenge models carrying detailed process descriptions of biomass burning aerosols with the new, comprehensive observations being made during SAMBBA to evaluate model performance and to improve parameterisations. Numerical Weather Prediction and Climate model simulations with a range of complexity and spatial resolution will be used to investigate the ways in which absorbing aerosol may influence dynamics and climate on regional and wider scales. At the heart of the approach is the use of a new range of models that can investigate such interactions using coupled descriptions of aerosols and clouds to fully investigate feedbacks at spatial scales that are sufficiently well resolved to assess such processes.

Planned Impact

Regional climate variability and modification of regional weather, including precipitation, over a region as important as Amazonia is a highly significant social, political and scientific issue. The SAMBBA project will therefore have significant impact across a wide spectrum of stakeholders.

Who will benefit from this research?

Scientific community. This work will be of significant scientific interest nationally and internationally, in particular this work will benefit Brazilian science and mutual benefit will be derived between SAMBBA and the US Department of Energy GO-Amazon team.

Business. SAMBBA is a direct collaboration with several research groups in the Met Office and will have a direct feed through to future improvements in Numerical Weather Prediction and Climate modelling. INPE, the Brazilian Space agency is the organisation responsible for regional climate modelling and operation forecasting in Brazil. INPE are a partner in this proposal and will directly benefit from our research. The European Centre for Medium Range Weather Forecasting (ECMWF) will also collaborate on SAMBBA and will benefit from the outcomes of the programme.

General public / media. There has been significant publicity in recent years on aerosols, clouds and climate and also on Amazonia, biomass burning and deforestation. However, there remains significant lack of knowledge surrounding these issues and clear information needs to be conveyed to the public.

Policymakers. Amazonia is a highly important ecosystem offering one of the largest carbon stores on the planet. This project will have a direct bearing on understanding the role of BB aerosol in regional climate change for policymaking purposes. Therefore, policymakers in government and scientific bodies (such as IPCC) will all be users of the project outcomes.

How will they benefit?
Scientific community. New ground based and airborne measurements over Amazonia will be important for the scientific community. Aerosol processes in models will be tested in an extremely important environment - Amazonia. New synthesise of aerosol-cloud interactions with weather and regional climate will be delivered over the region. Project results will be widely reported in publications, international conferences etc. Project results will feed into future IPCC assessments.


10 25 50

Description Understanding of tropical biomass burning emissions in Indonesian peatlands and in Brazillian Amazon and surrounding ecosystems

Development of methods to measure PM2.5 and BC emissions factors in the field

Development of new methodology to directly estimate fire emissions from satellite fire radiative power data, bypassing the assumptions required with current methods.
Exploitation Route New biomass burning emissions inventories.
New biomass burning emissions factors.
New methdologies for both.
Sectors Environment

Description We are going to develop an operational product that delivers carbon emission estimates based on the approach pioneered in this research project. It will be delivered by the EUMETSAT LSA SAF.
First Year Of Impact 2019
Sector Environment
Impact Types Policy & public services

Description GeoStationary Fire data for Developing Countries
Amount £111,965 (GBP)
Funding ID NE/S014004/1 
Organisation Natural Environment Research Council 
Sector Public
Country United Kingdom
Start 09/2019 
End 03/2021
Description Leverhulme Trust Research Center in Wildfires, Environment and Society
Amount £100,000,000 (GBP)
Organisation The Leverhulme Trust 
Sector Charity/Non Profit
Country United Kingdom
Start 09/2019 
End 08/2029
Description New satellite observations to improve monitoring and forecasting of severe smoke pollution over SE Asia caused by Indonesian landscape burning
Amount £125,708 (GBP)
Funding ID ST/S003029/1 
Organisation Science and Technologies Facilities Council (STFC) 
Sector Public
Country United Kingdom
Start 03/2019 
End 03/2021
Description STFC GCRF Award
Amount £449,401 (GBP)
Organisation STFC Laboratories 
Sector Public
Country United Kingdom
Start 04/2018 
End 04/2020
Title Top down method for biomasss burning emissions calculation 
Description We present a novel emissions inventory approach that bypasses the fuel consumption step, directly linking geostationary FRP measures to emission rates of total particulate matter (TPM), via coefficients derived from observations of smoke plume aerosol optical depth (AOD). The approach is fully 'top-down', being based on spaceborne observations alone, is performed at or close to the FRP data's original pixel resolution, and avoids the need to assume or model fuel consumption per unit area prior to the emissions calculation. Rates and totals of trace gas and carbon emission can be inferred from the TPM fluxes, and in combination with satellite burned area (BA) products the approach provides an innovative top down approach to mapping fuel consumption per unit area (kg·m- 2) as a last step in the calculation. 
Type Of Material Improvements to research infrastructure 
Year Produced 2018 
Provided To Others? Yes  
Impact The method can convert satellite measurements of fire radiative power direct into estimates of atmospheric emissions, bypassing the current assumptions that limit the independence of some other FRP-based techniques. 
Title New emissions factors for biomass burning 
Description New information on emissions factors - which are the amount of different chemical species emission per kg of fuel burned 
Type Of Material Database/Collection of data 
Year Produced 2017 
Provided To Others? Yes  
Impact New total emissions fields for biomass burning.