Ipina, A; Salum, GM; Crino, E; Piacentini, RD (2012). Satellite and ground detection of very dense smoke clouds produced on the islands of the Parana river delta that affected a large region in Central Argentina. ADVANCES IN SPACE RESEARCH, 49(5), 966-977.
Intense fires were produced on the Parana river delta islands, Argentina, during most part of 2008, by a combination of an exceptionally dry period and the farmers' use of a fire land-cleaning technique. In April 2008, those fires significantly affected the nearby regions and their inhabitants, from Rosario city to Buenos Aires mega-city. In this work we present satellite as well as ground Aerosol Optical Depth (AOD) at 550 nm data obtained during the propagation of pollution clouds to the central zone of Argentina. The highest value (1.18) was registered at Buenos Aires by atmospheric remote sensing, using the satellite instrument MODIS/Terra on April 18th 2008 at 10:35 local time (= UT - 3 h). On the same day, ground air quality detectors also measured in this city the highest Total Suspended Particle (TSP) wvalue of the month, 2.02 mg/m(3). The AOD(550) daily variation at Rosario Astronomical Observatory, which is located near the Parana riverside, was derived by combining solar ultraviolet erythemal irradiance data (measured with a YES biometre) with model calculations. On April 25th 2008, from 12:00 to 15:30 local time, a rather high and constant AOD(550) value was registered, with a mean value of (0.90 +/- 0.21). Cities located on the side of the Rosario Buenos Aires highway (San Nicolas, Baradero and San Pedro) were also affected, showing a mean AOD(550) between the Rosario and Buenos Aires values. The particulate matter was collected with gridded samplers placed on the Parana river islands as well as at the Rosario Observatory. They were analysed with a Scanning Electron Microscope (SEM) and mainly showed a biological origin. Even if normally large particles travel small distances from the source, organic aerosol in the range of 40-100 mu M and complex asymmetric structures were registered several kilometres away from the aerosol sources on the islands. Another event of intense UV index attenuation (98.6%) occurred on September 18th 2008, due to very dense smoke clouds that extended over the Rosario area for several hours. The clouds were driven away from the fires by East northeast and East southeast winds. The minimum value of this index measured around noon allows to derive a maximum AOD(550)(max) = (3.65 +/- 0.90) at 12:45 local time. Soot clouds extended over the Parana river, transporting Burned Biomass Debris (BBD) that deposited on Rosario. In particular, burned leaves and small branches with dimensions of 1-20 cm were collected. The mean (BBD) particles deposited on the ground from 7:00 to 19:00 local time were (0.92 +/- 0.20) BBD/(m(2) h). The main purpose of the present work is to contribute to the understanding and quantification of the impact of very dense smoke clouds and BBD that directly and indirectly affected a densely populated area. All the events originated in a very particular and fragile region such as a river delta (with its specific native plants) were registered by using a multi-instrument approach (satellite as well as ground based devices). The analysis of these events, as detailed in this manuscript, was used as a scientific reference for the judicial claim made at the Supreme Court of Justice of Argentina by the National University of Rosario, against the authorities of the Entre Rios Province where the islands of the Parana river are placed, in order to take the necessary measures for the suspension of the biomass burning in these islands. (C) 2011 COSPAR. Published by Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.