We present a new method for deriving total emissions estimates from large vegetation fires using satellite-based measurements of aerosol optical depth. This method is based upon simultaneous measurements of total column amounts of trace gases and aerosol optical depth of the atmosphere through smoke plumes from Australian fires. These measurements were derived from ground-based solar remote sensing spectrometers in the infrared and UV-visible spectral regions and also provide emission ratios that may be used in more conventional bottom-up estimates of total emissions. Measurements of emissions from Australian forest fires are relatively sparse given the significance of this source to the global emissions budget from biomass burning. Additional measurements of emission ratios of a number of trace gases have been made using open-path FTIR measurements through smoke plumes from hazard reduction burns in New South Wales.