Seasonal patterns in biomass smoke pollution and the mid 20th-century transition from Aboriginal to European fire management in northern Australia

David Bowman, J Dingle, F JOHNSTON, David Parry, M Foley

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

    Abstract

    Aim: Globally, most landscape burning occurs in the tropical savanna biome, where fire is a characteristic of the annual dry season. In northern Australia there is uncertainty about how the frequency and timing of dry season fires have changed in the transition from Aboriginal to European fire management. Location: In the tropical eucalypt savannas that surround the city of Darwin in the northwest of the Northern Territory of Australia. Methods: Our study had three parts: (1) we developed a predictive statistical model of mean mass (?g) of particulates 10 ?m or less per cubic metre of air (PM10) using visibility and other meteorological data in Darwin during the dry seasons of 2000 and 2004; (2) we tested the model and its application to the broader air shed by (a) matching the prediction of this model to PM10 measurements made in Darwin in 2005, (b) matching the predictions to independent measurements at two locations 20 km to the north and south of Darwin and (c) matching peaks in PM10 to known major fire events in the region (2000-01 dry seasons); and (3) we used the model to explore changes in air quality over the last 50 years, a period that spans the transition from Aboriginal to European land management. Results: We demonstrated that visibility data can be used reliably as a proxy for biomass burning across the largely uncleared tropical savannas inland of Darwin. Validations using independent measurements demonstrated that our predictive model was robust, and geographically and temporally representative of the regional airshed. We used the model to hindcast and found that seasonal air quality has changed since 1955, with a trend to increasing PM10 concentrations in the early dry season. Main conclusions: The results suggest that the transition from Aboriginal to European land management has been associated with an increase in fire activity in the early months of the dry season. � 2006 The Authors Journal compilation � 2006 Blackwell Publishing Ltd.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)246-256
    Number of pages11
    JournalGlobal Ecology and Biogeography
    Volume16
    Issue number2
    Publication statusPublished - 2007

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    fire management
    smoke
    dry season
    pollution
    seasonal variation
    biomass
    savanna
    savannas
    air quality
    land management
    visibility
    prediction
    Northern Territory
    air
    biomass burning
    biome
    statistical models
    meteorological data
    particulates
    uncertainty

    Cite this

    @article{1308d9ef5c3a4d33a4f750f30b99ae4d,
    title = "Seasonal patterns in biomass smoke pollution and the mid 20th-century transition from Aboriginal to European fire management in northern Australia",
    abstract = "Aim: Globally, most landscape burning occurs in the tropical savanna biome, where fire is a characteristic of the annual dry season. In northern Australia there is uncertainty about how the frequency and timing of dry season fires have changed in the transition from Aboriginal to European fire management. Location: In the tropical eucalypt savannas that surround the city of Darwin in the northwest of the Northern Territory of Australia. Methods: Our study had three parts: (1) we developed a predictive statistical model of mean mass (?g) of particulates 10 ?m or less per cubic metre of air (PM10) using visibility and other meteorological data in Darwin during the dry seasons of 2000 and 2004; (2) we tested the model and its application to the broader air shed by (a) matching the prediction of this model to PM10 measurements made in Darwin in 2005, (b) matching the predictions to independent measurements at two locations 20 km to the north and south of Darwin and (c) matching peaks in PM10 to known major fire events in the region (2000-01 dry seasons); and (3) we used the model to explore changes in air quality over the last 50 years, a period that spans the transition from Aboriginal to European land management. Results: We demonstrated that visibility data can be used reliably as a proxy for biomass burning across the largely uncleared tropical savannas inland of Darwin. Validations using independent measurements demonstrated that our predictive model was robust, and geographically and temporally representative of the regional airshed. We used the model to hindcast and found that seasonal air quality has changed since 1955, with a trend to increasing PM10 concentrations in the early dry season. Main conclusions: The results suggest that the transition from Aboriginal to European land management has been associated with an increase in fire activity in the early months of the dry season. � 2006 The Authors Journal compilation � 2006 Blackwell Publishing Ltd.",
    keywords = "air quality, atmospheric pollution, biomass, biome, fire management, land management, landscape, numerical model, savanna, smoke, Australasia, Australia, Darwin, Northern Territory",
    author = "David Bowman and J Dingle and F JOHNSTON and David Parry and M Foley",
    year = "2007",
    language = "English",
    volume = "16",
    pages = "246--256",
    journal = "Global Ecology and Biogeography",
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    publisher = "Wiley-Blackwell",
    number = "2",

    }

    Seasonal patterns in biomass smoke pollution and the mid 20th-century transition from Aboriginal to European fire management in northern Australia. / Bowman, David; Dingle, J; JOHNSTON, F; Parry, David; Foley, M.

    In: Global Ecology and Biogeography, Vol. 16, No. 2, 2007, p. 246-256.

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

    TY - JOUR

    T1 - Seasonal patterns in biomass smoke pollution and the mid 20th-century transition from Aboriginal to European fire management in northern Australia

    AU - Bowman, David

    AU - Dingle, J

    AU - JOHNSTON, F

    AU - Parry, David

    AU - Foley, M

    PY - 2007

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    N2 - Aim: Globally, most landscape burning occurs in the tropical savanna biome, where fire is a characteristic of the annual dry season. In northern Australia there is uncertainty about how the frequency and timing of dry season fires have changed in the transition from Aboriginal to European fire management. Location: In the tropical eucalypt savannas that surround the city of Darwin in the northwest of the Northern Territory of Australia. Methods: Our study had three parts: (1) we developed a predictive statistical model of mean mass (?g) of particulates 10 ?m or less per cubic metre of air (PM10) using visibility and other meteorological data in Darwin during the dry seasons of 2000 and 2004; (2) we tested the model and its application to the broader air shed by (a) matching the prediction of this model to PM10 measurements made in Darwin in 2005, (b) matching the predictions to independent measurements at two locations 20 km to the north and south of Darwin and (c) matching peaks in PM10 to known major fire events in the region (2000-01 dry seasons); and (3) we used the model to explore changes in air quality over the last 50 years, a period that spans the transition from Aboriginal to European land management. Results: We demonstrated that visibility data can be used reliably as a proxy for biomass burning across the largely uncleared tropical savannas inland of Darwin. Validations using independent measurements demonstrated that our predictive model was robust, and geographically and temporally representative of the regional airshed. We used the model to hindcast and found that seasonal air quality has changed since 1955, with a trend to increasing PM10 concentrations in the early dry season. Main conclusions: The results suggest that the transition from Aboriginal to European land management has been associated with an increase in fire activity in the early months of the dry season. � 2006 The Authors Journal compilation � 2006 Blackwell Publishing Ltd.

    AB - Aim: Globally, most landscape burning occurs in the tropical savanna biome, where fire is a characteristic of the annual dry season. In northern Australia there is uncertainty about how the frequency and timing of dry season fires have changed in the transition from Aboriginal to European fire management. Location: In the tropical eucalypt savannas that surround the city of Darwin in the northwest of the Northern Territory of Australia. Methods: Our study had three parts: (1) we developed a predictive statistical model of mean mass (?g) of particulates 10 ?m or less per cubic metre of air (PM10) using visibility and other meteorological data in Darwin during the dry seasons of 2000 and 2004; (2) we tested the model and its application to the broader air shed by (a) matching the prediction of this model to PM10 measurements made in Darwin in 2005, (b) matching the predictions to independent measurements at two locations 20 km to the north and south of Darwin and (c) matching peaks in PM10 to known major fire events in the region (2000-01 dry seasons); and (3) we used the model to explore changes in air quality over the last 50 years, a period that spans the transition from Aboriginal to European land management. Results: We demonstrated that visibility data can be used reliably as a proxy for biomass burning across the largely uncleared tropical savannas inland of Darwin. Validations using independent measurements demonstrated that our predictive model was robust, and geographically and temporally representative of the regional airshed. We used the model to hindcast and found that seasonal air quality has changed since 1955, with a trend to increasing PM10 concentrations in the early dry season. Main conclusions: The results suggest that the transition from Aboriginal to European land management has been associated with an increase in fire activity in the early months of the dry season. � 2006 The Authors Journal compilation � 2006 Blackwell Publishing Ltd.

    KW - air quality

    KW - atmospheric pollution

    KW - biomass

    KW - biome

    KW - fire management

    KW - land management

    KW - landscape

    KW - numerical model

    KW - savanna

    KW - smoke

    KW - Australasia

    KW - Australia

    KW - Darwin

    KW - Northern Territory

    M3 - Article

    VL - 16

    SP - 246

    EP - 256

    JO - Global Ecology and Biogeography

    JF - Global Ecology and Biogeography

    SN - 1466-822X

    IS - 2

    ER -