Airborne Studies of the Smoke from the Kuwait Oil Fires

Science  15 May 1992:
Vol. 256, Issue 5059, pp. 987-991
DOI: 10.1126/science.256.5059.987


Airborne studies of smoke from the Kuwait oil fires were carried out in the spring of 1991 when ∼4.6 million barrels of oil were burning per day. Emissions of sulfur dioxide were ∼57% of that from electric utilities in the United States; emissions of carbon dioxide were ∼2% of global emissions; emissions of soot were ∼3400 metric tons per day. The smoke absorbed ∼75 to 80% of the sun's radiation in regions of the Persian Gulf. However, the smoke probably had insignificant global effects because (i) particle emissions were less than expected, (ii) the smoke was not as black as expected, (iii) the smoke was not carried high in the atmosphere, and (iv) the smoke had a short atmospheric residence time.