Unprecedented atmospheric ammonia concentrations detected in the high Arctic from the 2017 Canadian wildfires

Erik Lutsch, Kimberly Strong, Dylan B.A. Jones, Ivan Ortega, James W. Hannigan, Enrico Dammers, Mark W. Shephard, Eleanor Morris, Killian Murphy, Mathew J. Evans, Mark Parrington, Simon Whitburn, Martin Van Damme, Lieven Clarisse, Pierre-Francois Coheur, Cathy Clerbaux, Betty Croft, Randall V. Martin, Jeffrey R. Pierce, Jenny A. Fisher

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Abstract From 17-22 August 2017 simultaneous enhancements of ammonia (NH3), carbon monoxide (CO), hydrogen cyanide (HCN), and ethane (C2H6) were detected from ground-based solar absorption Fourier transform infrared (FTIR) spectroscopic measurements at two high-Arctic sites: Eureka (80.05°N, 86.42°W) Nunavut, Canada and Thule (76.53°N, 68.74°W), Greenland. These enhancements were attributed to wildfires in British Columbia and the Northwest Territories of Canada using FLEXPART back-trajectories and fire locations from Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) and found to be the greatest observed enhancements in more than a decade of measurements at Eureka (2006-2017) and Thule (1999-2017). Observations of gas-phase NH3 from these wildfires illustrates that boreal wildfires may be a considerable episodic source of NH3 in the summertime high Arctic. Comparisons of GEOS-Chem model simulations using the Global Fire Assimilation System (GFASv1.2) biomass burning emissions to FTIR measurements and Infrared Atmospheric Sounding Interferometer (IASI) measurements showed that the transport of wildfire emissions to the Arctic was underestimated in GEOS-Chem. However, GEOS-Chem simulations showed that these wildfires contributed to surface-layer NH3 and enhancements of 0.01-0.11 ppbv and 0.05-1.07 ppbv, respectively, over the Canadian Archipelago from 15-23 August 2017.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages25
JournalJournal of Geophysical Research: Atmospheres
Early online date8 Jul 2019
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 8 Jul 2019

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  • Ammonia, Arctic, FTIR, NDACC, PEARL, Wildfires

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