McCarty, JL (2011). Remote Sensing-Based Estimates of Annual and Seasonal Emissions from Crop Residue Burning in the Contiguous United States. JOURNAL OF THE AIR & WASTE MANAGEMENT ASSOCIATION, 61(1), 22-34.
Crop residue burning is an extensive agricultural practice in the contiguous United States (CONUS). This analysis presents the results of a remote sensing-based study of crop residue burning emissions in the CONUS for the time period 2003-2007 for the atmospheric species of carbon dioxide (CO2), methane (CH4), carbon monoxide (CO), nitrogen dioxide (NO2), sulfur dioxide (SO2), PM2.5 (particulate matter [PM] <= 2.5 mu m in aerodynamic diameter), and PM10 (PM <= 10 mu m in aerodynamic diameter). Cropland burned area and associated crop types were derived from Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) products. Emission factors, fuel load, and combustion completeness estimates were derived from the scientific literature, governmental reports, and expert knowledge. Emissions were calculated using the bottom-up approach in which emissions are the product of burned area, fuel load, and combustion completeness for each specific crop type. On average, annual crop residue burning in the CONUS emitted 6.1 Tg of CO2, 8.9 Gg of CH4, 232.4 Gg of CO, 10.6 Gg of NO2, 4.4 Gg of SO2, 20.9 Gg of PM2.5, and 28.5 Gg of PM10. These emissions remained fairly consistent, with an average interannual variability of crop residue burning emissions of +/- 10%. The states with the highest emissions were Arkansas, California, Florida, Idaho, Texas, and Washington. Most emissions were clustered in the southeastern United States, the Great Plains, and the Pacific Northwest. Air quality and carbon emissions were concentrated in the spring, summer, and fall, with an exception because of winter harvesting of sugarcane in Florida, Louisiana, and Texas. Sugarcane, wheat, and rice residues accounted for approximately 70% of all crop residue burning and associated emissions. Estimates of CO and CH4 from agricultural waste burning by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency were 73 and 78% higher than the CO and CH4 emission estimates from this analysis, respectively. This analysis also showed that crop residue burning emissions are a minor source of CH4 emissions (<1%) compared with the CH4 emissions from other agricultural sources, specifically enteric fermentation, manure management, and rice cultivation.