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Volume 130, 2005
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Global partitioning of NOx sources using satellite observations: Relative roles of fossil fuel combustion, biomass burning and soil emissions

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We use space-based observations of NO2 columns from the Global Ozone Monitoring Experiment (GOME) to derive monthly top-down NOx emissions for 2000 via inverse modeling with the GEOS-CHEM chemical transport model. Top-down NOx sources are partitioned among fuel combustion (fossil fuel and biofuel), biomass burning and soils by exploiting the spatio-temporal distribution of remotely sensed fires and a priori information on the location of regions dominated by fuel combustion. The top-down inventory is combined with an a priori inventory to obtain an optimized a posteriori estimate of the relative roles of NOx sources. The resulting a posteriori fuel combustion inventory (25.6 TgN year−1) agrees closely with the a priori (25.4 TgN year−1), and errors are reduced by a factor of 2, from ±80% to ±40%. Regionally, the largest differences are found over Japan and South Africa, where a posteriori estimates are 25% larger than a priori. A posteriori fuel combustion emissions are aseasonal, with the exception of East Asia and Europe where winter emissions are 30–40% larger relative to summer emissions, consistent with increased energy use during winter for heating. Global a posteriori biomass burning emissions in 2000 resulted in 5.8 TgN (compared to 5.9 TgN year−1 in the a priori), with Africa accounting for half of this total. A posteriori biomass burning emissions over Southeast Asia/India are decreased by 46% relative to a priori; but over North equatorial Africa they are increased by 50%. A posteriori estimates of soil emissions (8.9 TgN year−1) are 68% larger than a priori (5.3 TgN year−1). The a posteriori inventory displays the largest soil emissions over tropical savanna/woodland ecosystems (Africa), as well as over agricultural regions in the western U.S. (Great Plains), southern Europe (Spain, Greece, Turkey), and Asia (North China Plain and North India), consistent with field measurements. Emissions over these regions are highest during summer at mid-latitudes and during the rainy season in the Tropics. We estimate that 2.5–4.5 TgN year−1 are emitted from N-fertilized soils, at the upper end of previous estimates. Soil and biomass burning emissions account for 22% and 14% of global surface NOx emissions, respectively. We infer a significant role for soil NOx emissions at northern mid-latitudes during summer, where they account for nearly half that of the fuel combustion source, a doubling relative to the a priori. The contribution of soil emissions to background ozone is thus likely to be underestimated by the current generation of chemical transport models.

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Publication details

The article was received on 10 Feb 2005, accepted on 22 Feb 2005 and first published on 11 May 2005

Article type: Paper
DOI: 10.1039/B502128F
Citation: Faraday Discuss., 2005,130, 407-423

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    Global partitioning of NOx sources using satellite observations: Relative roles of fossil fuel combustion, biomass burning and soil emissions

    L. Jaeglé, L. Steinberger, R. V. Martin and K. Chance, Faraday Discuss., 2005, 130, 407
    DOI: 10.1039/B502128F

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