The University of Southampton
University of Southampton Institutional Repository

Annual and diurnal african biomass burning temporal dynamics

Roberts, G., Wooster, M.J. and Lagoudakis, E. (2009) Annual and diurnal african biomass burning temporal dynamics [in special issue: Carbon cycling in Sub-Saharan Africa] Biogeosciences, 6, (5), pp. 849-866. (doi:10.5194/bg-6-849-2009).

Record type: Article


Africa is the single largest continental source of biomass burning emissions. Here we conduct the first analysis of one full year of geostationary active fire detections and fire radiative power data recorded over Africa at 15-min temporal interval and a 3 km sub-satellite spatial resolution by the Spinning Enhanced Visible and Infrared Imager (SEVIRI) imaging radiometer onboard the Meteosat-8 satellite. We use these data to provide new insights into the rates and totals of open biomass burning over Africa, particularly into the extremely strong seasonal and diurnal cycles that exist across the continent. We estimate peak daily biomass combustion totals to be 9 and 6 million tonnes of fuel per day in the northern and southern hemispheres respectively, and total fuel consumption between February 2004 and January 2005 is estimated to be at least 855 million tonnes. Analysis is carried out with regard to fire pixel temporal persistence, and we note that the majority of African fires are detected only once in consecutive 15 min imaging slots. An investigation of the variability of the diurnal fire cycle is carried out with respect to 20 different land cover types, and whilst differences are noted between land covers, the fire diurnal cycle characteristics for most land cover type are very similar in both African hemispheres. We compare the Fire Radiative Power (FRP) derived biomass combustion estimates to burned-areas, both at the scale of individual fires and over the entire continent at a 1-degree scale. Fuel consumption estimates are found to be less than 2 kg/m2 for all land cover types noted to be subject to significant fire activity, and for savanna grasslands where literature values are commonly reported the FRP-derived median fuel consumption estimate of 300 g/m2 is well within commonly quoted values. Meteosat-derived FRP data of the type presented here is now available freely to interested users continuously and in near real-time for Africa, Europe and parts of South America via the EUMETSAT (European Organisation for the Exploitation of Meteorological Satellites) Land Surface Analysis Satellite Applications Facility ( Continuous generation of these products will allow the types of analysis presented in this paper to be improved and extended, and such multi-year records should allow relationships between climate, fire and fuel to be further examined.

Full text not available from this repository.

More information

Published date: 15 May 2009
Organisations: Geography


Local EPrints ID: 178489
ISSN: 1726-4170
PURE UUID: 3136ea61-9ba8-41e2-a7a5-f99d4d8cd479

Catalogue record

Date deposited: 24 Mar 2011 16:09
Last modified: 18 Jul 2017 12:04

Export record



Author: G. Roberts
Author: M.J. Wooster
Author: E. Lagoudakis

University divisions

Download statistics

Downloads from ePrints over the past year. Other digital versions may also be available to download e.g. from the publisher's website.

View more statistics

Atom RSS 1.0 RSS 2.0

Contact ePrints Soton:

ePrints Soton supports OAI 2.0 with a base URL of

This repository has been built using EPrints software, developed at the University of Southampton, but available to everyone to use.

We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. If you continue without changing your settings, we will assume that you are happy to receive cookies on the University of Southampton website.