Journal of Atmospheric Chemistry

, Volume 22, Issue 1, pp 67-80

First online:

Field study of the emissions of methyl chloride and other halocarbons from biomass burning in Western Africa

  • J. RudolphAffiliated withInstitut für Atmospheärische Chemie, Forschungszentrum Jülich
  • , A. KhedimAffiliated withInstitut für Atmospheärische Chemie, Forschungszentrum Jülich
  • , R. KoppmannAffiliated withInstitut für Atmospheärische Chemie, Forschungszentrum Jülich
  • , B. BonsangAffiliated withLaboratoire Mixte CNRS/CEA, Centre des Faibles Radioactivités

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A field study of trace gas emissions from biomass burning in Equatorial Africa gave methyl chloride emission ratios of 4.3×10−5±0.8×10−5 mol CH3Cl/mol CO2. Based on the global emission rates for CO2 from biomass burning we estimate a range of 226−904×109 g/y as global emission rate with a best estimate of 515×109 g/y. This is somewhat lower than a previous estimate which has been based on laboratory studies. Nevertheless, our emission rate estimates correspond to 10–40% of the global turnover of methyl chloride and thus support the importance of biomass burning as methyl chloride source. The emission ratios for other halocarbons (CH2Cl2, CHCl3, CCl4, CH3CCl3, C2HCl3, C2Cl4, F-113) are lower. In general there seems to be a substantial decrease with increasing complexity of the compounds and number of halogen atoms. For dichloromethane biomass burning still contributes significantly to the total global budget and in the Southern Hemisphere biomass burning is probably the most important source for atmospheric dichloromethane. For the global budgets of other halocarbons biomass burning is of very limited relevance.

Key words

biomass burning halocarbons hydrocarbons methylchloride emission ratios