Delmas, R.A., Marenco, A., Tathy, J.P., Cros, B., Baudet, J.G.R., 1991. Sources and sinks of methane in African Savanna. CH4 emissions from biomass burning. J. Geophys. Res. 96, 7287-7299. doi:10.1029/90jd02496.
Sources and sinks of atmospheric methane are studied in savanna regions of west and central Africa. Flux measured over dry savanna soils, using static chambers, is always negative the average uptake rate being 2 × 1010 molecules/cm2/s. In these regions, sources are linked to biomass burning. Methane and CO2 emission from combustion of savanna plants and wood is studied by both field experiments and laboratory experiments using a combustion chamber. For savanna plants most of the carbon (85%) contained in the biomaterial is volatilized as CO2 and 0.1 to 0.25% as methane. For graminaceous plants like loudetia simplex the ratio C-CH4/C-CO2 is 0.11%; it is 0.28% for hyparrhenia the other main type of savanna plants and it attains 1.4% for the combustion of wood. In natural fire plumes this ratio is around 0.26% for savanna fires and 0.56 to 2.22% for forest fires. These results show that methane release is highly dependent on the type of combustion. Methane to CO2 ratios are also studied in vertical profiles in the troposphere taken during the TROPOZ I campaign, an aerial research expedition carried out over west Africa during the bushfire period. Within polluted layers, the average ratio of CH4 to CO2 excess over ambient air concentration is 0.34%. These results show that biomass burning in tropical Africa constitutes an important source of atmospheric methane estimated to about 9.2 × 106 T(CH4)/yr.