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A pervasive role for biomass burning in tropical high ozone/low water structures

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  • Daniel C. Anderson
  • Julie M. Nicely
  • Ross J. Salawitch
  • Timothy P. Canty
  • Russell R. Dickerson
  • Thomas F. Hanisco
  • Glenn M. Wolfe
  • Eric C. Apel
  • Elliot Atlas
  • Thomas Bannan
  • Stephane Bauguitte
  • Nicola J. Blake
  • James F. Bresch
  • Teresa L. Campos
  • Mark D. Cohen
  • Rafael P. Fernandez
  • Brian H. Kahn
  • Douglas E. Kinnison
  • Samuel R. Hall
  • Neil R.P. Harris
  • Rebecca S. Hornbrook
  • Jean-Francois Lamarque
  • Michael Le Breton
  • Carl Percival
  • Leonhard Pfister
  • R. Bradley Pierce
  • Daniel D. Riemer
  • Alfonso Saiz-Lopez
  • Barbara J.B. Stunder
  • Anne M. Thompson
  • Kirk Ullmann
  • Andrew J. Weinheimer


Publication details

JournalNature Communications
DateAccepted/In press - 23 Nov 2015
DatePublished (current) - 13 Jan 2016
Pages (from-to)10267
Original languageEnglish


Air parcels with mixing ratios of high O 3 and low H 2O (HOLW) are common features in the tropical western Pacific (TWP) mid-troposphere (300-700 hPa). Here, using data collected during aircraft sampling of the TWP in winter 2014, we find strong, positive correlations of O 3 with multiple biomass burning tracers in these HOLW structures. Ozone levels in these structures are about a factor of three larger than background. Models, satellite data and aircraft observations are used to show fires in tropical Africa and Southeast Asia are the dominant source of high O 3 and that low H 2O results from large-scale descent within the tropical troposphere. Previous explanations that attribute HOLW structures to transport from the stratosphere or mid-latitude troposphere are inconsistent with our observations. This study suggest a larger role for biomass burning in the radiative forcing of climate in the remote TWP than is commonly appreciated.

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Supplementary information available for this article at This content is made available by the publisher under a Creative Commons CC BY Licence


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