Impact of Biomass Burning Aerosols on the Biosphere over Amazonia
Friday, 19 December 2014: 12:05 PM
Biomass burning (BB) smoke from deforestation and the burning of agricultural waste emit a complex cocktail of aerosol particles and gases. BB emissions show a regional hotspot over South America on the edges of Amazonia. These major perturbations and impacts on surface temperature, surface fluxes, chemistry, radiation, rainfall, may have significant consequent impacts on the Amazon rainforest, the largest and most productive carbon store on the planet. There is therefore potential for very significant interaction and interplay between aerosols, clouds, radiation and the biosphere in the region.
Terrestrial carbon production (i.e. photosynthesis) is intimately tied to the supply of photosynthetically active radiation (PAR – i.e. wavelengths between 300-690 nm). PAR in sufficient intensity and duration is critical for plant growth. However, if a decrease in total radiation is accompanied by an increase in the component of diffuse radiation, plant productivity may increase due to higher light use efficiency per unit of PAR and less photosynthetic saturation. This effect, sometimes referred as diffuse light fertilization effect, could have increased the global land carbon sink by approximately one quarter during the global dimming period and is expected to be a least as important locally. By directly interacting with radiation, BB aerosols significantly reduce the total amount of PAR available to plant canopies. In addition, BB aerosols also play a centre role in cloud formation because they provide the necessary cloud condensation nuclei, hence indirectly altering the water cycle and the components and quantity of PAR.
In this presentation, we use the recent observations from the South American Biomass Burning Analysis (SAMBBA) to explore the impact of radiation changes on the carbon cycle in the Amazon region caused by BB emissions. A parameterisation of the impact of diffuse and direct radiation upon photosynthesis rates and net primary productivity in the biosphere has been implemented within a fully coupled Earth System Model, namely the UK Met Office Hadley Centre HadGEM2-ES model. We present results from ten-year experiments (2000-2010) designed to investigate the sensitivity of the terrestrial biosphere to the burden and absorbing nature of Amazonian BB aerosols.