Biology Faculty & Staff Publications

Document Type


Publication Date



Asian trace gas and aerosol emissions into carbon, nitrogen, and other elemental cycles will figure prominently in near term Earth system evolution. Atmospheric hydrocarbon measurements resolve numerous chemical species and can be used to investigate sourcing for key geocarriers. A recent aircraft study of biomass burning and lightning (BIBLE A) explored the East Asian atmosphere and was unique in centering on the Indonesian archipelago. Samples of volatile organics taken over/between the islands of Japan, Saipan, Java, and Borneo are here examined as a guide to whole-air-based studies of future Asian biogeochemistry. The midlatitude onshore/offshore pulse and tropical convection strongly influence concentration distributions. As species of increasing molecular weight are considered, rural, combustion, and industrial source regimes emerge. Methane-rich inputs such as waste treatment and rice cultivation are evidenced in the geostrophic outflow. The Indonesian atmosphere is rich in biomass burning markers and also those of vehicular activity. Complexity of air chemistry in the archipelago is a direct reflection of diverse topography, land use, and local economies in a rapidly developing nation. Conspicuous in its absence is the fingerprint for liquefied petroleum gas leakage, but it can be expected to appear as demand for clean fossil fuels rises along with per capita incomes. Combustion tracers indicate high nitrogen mobilization rates, linking regional terrestrial geocycles with open marine ecosystems. Sea to air fluxes are superimposed on continental and marine backgrounds for the methyl halides. However, ocean hot spots are not coordinated and suggest an intricate subsurface kinetics. Levels of long-lived anthropogenic halocarbons attest to the success of international environmental treaties while reactive chlorine containing species track industrial air masses. The dozens of hydrocarbons resolvable by gas chromatographic methods will enable monitoring of upcoming Asian modernization. Crucial uncertainties are underscored. Signatures for Asian combustion processes and megacities have been obtained only indirectly or at a distance. Detailed fingerprinting must be combined with regular aircraft and ground station measurements to maximize utility of the database.


American Geophysical Union





First Page




Language (ISO)



hydrocarbons, troposphere, Indonesia, biogeochemistry

Included in

Biology Commons