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Airborne characterization of smoke marker ratios from prescribed burning

Posted date: July 20, 2017
Publication Year: 
Authors: Sullivan, A. P.; May, A. A.; Lee, T.; McMeeking, G. R.; Kreidenweis, S. M.; Akagi, S. K.; Yokelson, R. J.; Urbanski, Shawn P.; Collett, J. L. Jr.
Publication Series: 
Scientific Journal (JRNL)
Source: Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics. 14: 10535-10545.


A Particle-Into-Liquid Sampler - Total Organic Carbon (PILS-TOC) and fraction collector system was flown aboard a Twin Otter aircraft sampling prescribed burning emissions in South Carolina in November 2011 to obtain smoke marker measurements. The fraction collector provided 2 min time-integrated offline samples for carbohydrate (i.e., smoke markers levoglucosan, mannosan, and galactosan) analysis by high-performance anion-exchange chromatography with pulsed amperometric detection. Each fire location appeared to have a unique 1levoglucosan /1water-soluble organic carbon (WSOC) ratio (RF01/RF02/RF03/RF05 = 0.163± 0.007 μg C μg−1 C, RF08 = 0.115 ± 0.011 μg C μg−1 C, RF09A = 0.072 ± 0.028 μgC μg−1 C, and RF09B = 0.042 ± 0.008 μg Cμg−1 C, where RF means research flight). These ratios were comparable to those obtained from controlled laboratory burns and suggested that the emissions sampled during RF01/F02/RF03/RF05 were dominated by the burning of grasses, RF08 by leaves, RF09A by needles, and RF09B by marsh grasses. These findings were further supported by the 1galactosan /1levoglucosan ratios (RF01/RF02/RF03/RF05 = 0.067 ± 0.004 μg μg−1, RF08 = 0.085 ± 0.009 μg μg−1, and RF09A = 0.101 ± 0.029 μg μg−1) obtained as well as by the ground-based fuel and filter sample analyses during RF01/RF02/RF03/RF05. Differences between 1potassium /1levoglucosan ratios obtained for these prescribed fires vs. laboratory-scale measurements suggest that some laboratory burns may not accurately represent potassium emissions from prescribed burns. The1levoglucosan /1WSOC ratio had no clear dependence on smoke age or fire dynamics suggesting that this ratio is more dependent on the type of fuel being burned. Levoglucosan was stable over a timescale of at least 1.5 h and could be useful to help estimate the air quality impacts of biomass burning.


Sullivan, A. P.; May, A. A.; Lee, T.; McMeeking, G. R.; Kreidenweis, S. M.; Akagi, S. K.; Yokelson, R. J.; Urbanski, S. P.; Collett, J. L., Jr. 2014. Airborne characterization of smoke marker ratios from prescribed burning. Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics. 14: 10535-10545.
Research Topics: 
Fire; Smoke
National Strategic Program Areas: 
Wildland Fire and Fuels