Substantial Underestimation of Post-Harvest Burning Emissions in the North China Plain Revealed by Multi-Species Space Observations

T. Stavrakou*, J.F. Müller, M. Bauwens, I. De Smedt, C. Lerot, M. Van Roozendael, P.F. Coheur, C. Clerbaux, K.F. Boersma, Y. Song

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

21 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

The large-scale burning of crop residues in the North China Plain (NCP), one of the most densely populated world regions, was recently recognized to cause severe air pollution and harmful health effects. A reliable quantification of the magnitude of these fires is needed to assess regional air quality. Here, we use an eight-year record (2005-2012) of formaldehyde measurements from space to constrain the emissions of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) in this region. Using inverse modelling, we derive that satellite-based post-harvest burning fluxes are, on average, at least a factor of 2 higher than state-of-the-art bottom-up statistical estimates, although with significant interannual variability. Crop burning is calculated to cause important increases in surface ozone (+7%) and fine aerosol concentrations (+18%) in the North China Plain in June. The impact of crop fires is also found in satellite observations of other species, glyoxal, nitrogen dioxide and methanol, and we show that those measurements validate the magnitude of the top-down fluxes. Our study indicates that the top-down crop burning fluxes of VOCs in June exceed by almost a factor of 2 the combined emissions from other anthropogenic activities in this region, underscoring the need for targeted actions towards changes in agricultural management practices.

Original languageEnglish
Article number32307
JournalScientific Reports
Volume6
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2016

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crop
volatile organic compound
agricultural management
nitrogen dioxide
crop residue
formaldehyde
methanol
management practice
air quality
atmospheric pollution
human activity
ozone
aerosol
plain
harvest
modeling
state of the art
observation satellite
need
world

Cite this

Stavrakou, T., Müller, J. F., Bauwens, M., De Smedt, I., Lerot, C., Van Roozendael, M., ... Song, Y. (2016). Substantial Underestimation of Post-Harvest Burning Emissions in the North China Plain Revealed by Multi-Species Space Observations. Scientific Reports, 6, [32307]. https://doi.org/10.1038/srep32307
Stavrakou, T. ; Müller, J.F. ; Bauwens, M. ; De Smedt, I. ; Lerot, C. ; Van Roozendael, M. ; Coheur, P.F. ; Clerbaux, C. ; Boersma, K.F. ; Song, Y. / Substantial Underestimation of Post-Harvest Burning Emissions in the North China Plain Revealed by Multi-Species Space Observations. In: Scientific Reports. 2016 ; Vol. 6.
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title = "Substantial Underestimation of Post-Harvest Burning Emissions in the North China Plain Revealed by Multi-Species Space Observations",
abstract = "The large-scale burning of crop residues in the North China Plain (NCP), one of the most densely populated world regions, was recently recognized to cause severe air pollution and harmful health effects. A reliable quantification of the magnitude of these fires is needed to assess regional air quality. Here, we use an eight-year record (2005-2012) of formaldehyde measurements from space to constrain the emissions of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) in this region. Using inverse modelling, we derive that satellite-based post-harvest burning fluxes are, on average, at least a factor of 2 higher than state-of-the-art bottom-up statistical estimates, although with significant interannual variability. Crop burning is calculated to cause important increases in surface ozone (+7{\%}) and fine aerosol concentrations (+18{\%}) in the North China Plain in June. The impact of crop fires is also found in satellite observations of other species, glyoxal, nitrogen dioxide and methanol, and we show that those measurements validate the magnitude of the top-down fluxes. Our study indicates that the top-down crop burning fluxes of VOCs in June exceed by almost a factor of 2 the combined emissions from other anthropogenic activities in this region, underscoring the need for targeted actions towards changes in agricultural management practices.",
author = "T. Stavrakou and J.F. M{\"u}ller and M. Bauwens and {De Smedt}, I. and C. Lerot and {Van Roozendael}, M. and P.F. Coheur and C. Clerbaux and K.F. Boersma and Y. Song",
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Stavrakou, T, Müller, JF, Bauwens, M, De Smedt, I, Lerot, C, Van Roozendael, M, Coheur, PF, Clerbaux, C, Boersma, KF & Song, Y 2016, 'Substantial Underestimation of Post-Harvest Burning Emissions in the North China Plain Revealed by Multi-Species Space Observations', Scientific Reports, vol. 6, 32307. https://doi.org/10.1038/srep32307

Substantial Underestimation of Post-Harvest Burning Emissions in the North China Plain Revealed by Multi-Species Space Observations. / Stavrakou, T.; Müller, J.F.; Bauwens, M.; De Smedt, I.; Lerot, C.; Van Roozendael, M.; Coheur, P.F.; Clerbaux, C.; Boersma, K.F.; Song, Y.

In: Scientific Reports, Vol. 6, 32307, 2016.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

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AU - Stavrakou, T.

AU - Müller, J.F.

AU - Bauwens, M.

AU - De Smedt, I.

AU - Lerot, C.

AU - Van Roozendael, M.

AU - Coheur, P.F.

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AU - Boersma, K.F.

AU - Song, Y.

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AB - The large-scale burning of crop residues in the North China Plain (NCP), one of the most densely populated world regions, was recently recognized to cause severe air pollution and harmful health effects. A reliable quantification of the magnitude of these fires is needed to assess regional air quality. Here, we use an eight-year record (2005-2012) of formaldehyde measurements from space to constrain the emissions of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) in this region. Using inverse modelling, we derive that satellite-based post-harvest burning fluxes are, on average, at least a factor of 2 higher than state-of-the-art bottom-up statistical estimates, although with significant interannual variability. Crop burning is calculated to cause important increases in surface ozone (+7%) and fine aerosol concentrations (+18%) in the North China Plain in June. The impact of crop fires is also found in satellite observations of other species, glyoxal, nitrogen dioxide and methanol, and we show that those measurements validate the magnitude of the top-down fluxes. Our study indicates that the top-down crop burning fluxes of VOCs in June exceed by almost a factor of 2 the combined emissions from other anthropogenic activities in this region, underscoring the need for targeted actions towards changes in agricultural management practices.

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JO - Scientific Reports

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