Published on 23 September 2016
The large-scale burning of crop residues in the North China Plain (NCP), one of the most densely populated world regions, was recently recognized to cause severe air pollution and harmful health effects. A reliable quantification of the magnitude of these fires is needed to assess regional air quality. The Royal Belgian Institute for Space Aeronomy (BIRA-IASB) and its partners ULB, KNMI (Netherlands) and the Peking University (China) used an eight-year record (2005–2012) of formaldehyde measurements from space to constrain the emissions of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) in this region.
Using inverse modelling, the scientists derived that satellite-based post-harvest burning fluxes are, on average, at least a factor of 2 higher than state-of-the-art bottom-up statistical estimates, although with significant interannual variability.
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