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Carbonaceous Aerosol From Open Burning and its Impact on Regional Weather in South Asia

Category: Special Session: Aerosols, Air Quality and Climate Change in the Himalayan Region

Volume: 20 | Issue: 3 | Pages: 419-431
DOI: 10.4209/aaqr.2019.03.0146
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To cite this article:
Singh, P., Sarawade, P. and Adhikary, B. (2020). Carbonaceous Aerosol From Open Burning and its Impact on Regional Weather in South Asia. Aerosol Air Qual. Res. 20: 419-431. doi: 10.4209/aaqr.2019.03.0146.

Prashant Singh1,2, Pradip Sarawade 1, Bhupesh Adhikary 2

  • 1 Department of Physics, University of Mumbai, Mumbai 400098, India
  • 2 International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development (ICIMOD), Khumaltar, Lalitpur, Nepal


  • Long term emissions of open biomass burning (OBB) are analyzed for South Asia.
  • OBB emitted carbonaceous aerosol (CA) strongly affect radiative forcing.
  • OBB emitted CA reduces the dispersion of pollutant at the regional scale.


Seasonal open biomass burning contributes to significant carbonaceous aerosol loading over South Asia. This study analyzes long-term trends in emissions in two hot spot regions, Myanmar and Punjab, based on data from the Global Fire Emissions Database (GFED4s) and Fire INventory (FINN) from the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR). Our analysis reveals that emissions during active fire seasons increase by approximately 83–106% and 2338–3054% for Punjab and Myanmar, respectively, compared to the estimates of anthropogenic emissions obtained with FINN. We also examine the impact of carbonaceous aerosol from open biomass burning on regional weather by using the Weather Research and Forecasting model coupled with Chemistry (WRF-Chem) to conduct a year-long simulation of the post-monsoon and pre-monsoon periods when active fires were reported. The results indicate that the carbonaceous aerosol is vertically lofted by as much as 3–5 km into the atmosphere and, rising as high as the 850 hPa level from the surface, disperses horizontally throughout South Asia. Our calculations on the radiative forcing suggest that changes of up to –6.14 W m–2 and –0.50 W m–2, and –42.76 W m–2 and –1.91 W m–2 occur at the surface and at the top of the atmosphere over Punjab and Myanmar, respectively. We also find that carbonaceous aerosol (black carbon + organic carbon), similar to black carbon (BC), reduces the surface temperature, despite the scattering effects of organic carbon (OC). Overall, open biomass burning causes the surface temperature to decrease by 2 K, the relative humidity to increase by 8% and the planetary boundary layer height to change by as much as 600 m. Changes in the precipitation patterns and volume due to the carbonaceous aerosol from open biomass burning, however, are negligible when considering only the direct radiative feedback.


South Asia Biomass burning Carbonaceous aerosol WRF-Chem

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