Scientific References

Peer Reviewed Literature: Airborne characterization of smoke marker ratios from prescribed burning


A. P. Sullivan, A. A. May, T. Lee, G. R. McMeeking, S. M. Kreidenweis, S. K. Akagi, R. J. Yokelson, S. P. Urbanski, and J. L. Collett Jr.

Presented at


A Particle-into-Liquid Sampler – Total Organic Carbon and fraction collector sys-tem was flown aboard a Twin Otter aircraft sampling prescribed burning emis-sions in South Carolina in November 2011 to obtain smoke marker measure-ments. The fraction collector provided 2min time-integrated off-line samples for car-bohydrate (i.e., smoke markers levoglucosan, mannosan, galactosan) analysis by high-performance anion-exchange chromatography with pulsed amperometric detec-tion. Each fire location appeared to have a unique ∆ levoglucosan/∆ water-soluble organic carbon (WSOC) ratio (RF01/RF02/RF03/RF05= 0.163± 0.007µgCµgC−1, RF08= 0.115±0.011µgCµgC−1, RF09A= 0.072±0.028µgCµgC−1, RF09B= 0.042±0.008µgCµgC−1). These ratios were comparable to those obtained from con-trolled laboratory burns and suggested that the emissions sampled during RF01/RF02/RF03/RF05 were dominated by the burning of grasses, RF08 by leaves, RF09A by needles, and RF09B by marsh grasses. These findings were fur-ther supported by the ∆ galactosan/∆ levoglucosan ratios (RF01/RF02/RF03/RF05=0.067± 0.004µgµg−1, RF08= 0.085±0.009µgµg−1, RF09A= 0.101± 0.029µgµg−1) obtained as well as by the ground-based fuel and filter sample analyses during RF01/RF02/RF03/RF05. Differences between ∆potassium/∆ levoglucosan ratios ob-tained for these prescribed fires vs. laboratory-scale measurements suggest that some laboratory burns may not accurately represent potassium emissions from prescribed burns. The ∆ levoglucosan/∆ WSOC ratio had no clear dependence on smoke age or fire dynamics suggesting that this ratio is more dependent on the type of fuel being burned. Levoglucosan was stable over a timescale of at least 1.5h and could be useful to help estimate the air quality impacts of biomass burning.