Peat-forest burning smoke in Maritime Continent: Impacts on receptor PM2.5 and implications at emission sources

This study characterizes the impacts of transported peat-forest (PF) burning smoke on an urban environment and evaluates associated source burning conditions based on carbon properties of PM2.5 at the receptor site. We developed and validated a three-step classification that enables systematic and more rapid identification of PF smoke impacts on a tropical urban environment with diverse emissions and complex atmospheric processes. This approach was used to characterize over 300 daily PM2.5 data collected during 2011–2013, 2015 and 2019 in Singapore. A levoglucosan concentration of ≥0.1 μg/m3 criterion indicates dominant impacts of transported PF smoke on urban fine aerosols. This approach can be used in other ambient environments for practical and location-dependent applications. Organic carbon (OC) concentrations (as OC indicator) can be an alternate to levoglucosan for assessing smoke impacts on urban environments. Applying the OC concentration indicator identifies smoke impacts on ∼80% of daily samples in 2019 and shows an accuracy of 51–86% for hourly evaluation. Following the systematic identification of urban PM2.5 predominantly affected by PF smoke in 2011–2013, 2015 and 2019, we assessed the concentration ratio of char-EC/soot-EC as an indicator of smoldering- or flaming-dominated burning emissions. When under the influence of transported PF smoke, the mean concentration ratio of char-EC to soot-EC in urban PM2.5 decreased by >70% from 8.2 in 2011 to 2.3 in 2015 but increased to 3.8 in 2019 (p < 0.05). The reversed trend with a 65% increase from 2015 to 2019 shows stronger smoldering relative to flaming, indicating a higher level of soil moisture at smoke origins, possibly associated with rewetting and revegetating peatlands since 2016.
  • Authors: Lan, Y., Tham, J., Jia, S., Sarkar, S., Fan, W.H., Reid, J.S., Ong, C.N., Yu, L.E.
  • Author Affiliation: National University of Singapore, Naval Research Laboratory
  • Subjects: forest fires, peatlands, tropics, air quality, biomass, burning
  • Publication type: Journal Article, ISI
  • Source: Environmental Pollution 275: 116626
  • Year: 2021
  • DOI:
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