Earth and Atmospheric Sciences, Department of


Date of this Version



Natural Hazard Uncertainty Assessment: Modeling and Decision Support, Geophysical Monograph 223, First Edition. Edited by Karin Riley, Peter Webley, and Matthew Thompson.


U.S. government work.


Significant uncertainties are incurred in deriving various quantities related to biomass burning from satellite measurements at different scales, and, in general, the coarser the resolution of observation the larger the uncertainty. WRF‐Chem model simulations of smoke over the northern sub‐Saharan African (NSSA) region for January–February 2010, using fire energetics and emissions research version 1.0 (FEERv1) aerosol emissions derived from MODIS measurements of fire radiative power (FRP) and aerosol optical depth (AOD), resulted in a severe model underestimation of AOD compared with satellite retrievals. Such uncertainties are attributable to three major factors: limitations in the spatial and temporal resolutions of the satellite observations used to quantify emissions, modeling parameters and assumptions, and the unique geographic characteristics of NSSA. It is recommended that field campaigns involving synergistic coordination of ground‐based, airborne, and satellite measurements with modeling be conducted in major and complex biomass burning regions such as the NSSA, and that significant improvements in the spatial and temporal resolutions of observation systems needed to reduce uncertainties in biomass burning characterization be seriously considered in future satellite missions.