By modulating the Earth-atmosphere energy, hydrological and biogeochemical cycles, and affecting regional-to-global weather and climate, biomass burning is recognized as one of the major factors affecting the global carbon cycle. However, few comprehensive and wide-ranging experiments have been conducted to characterize biomass-burning pollutants in Southeast Asia (SEA) or assess their regional impact on meteorology, the hydrological cycle, the radiative budget, or climate change. Recently, BASE-ASIA (Biomass-burning Aerosols in South-East Asia: Smoke Impact Assessment) and the 7-SEAS (7-South-East Asian Studies)/Dongsha Experiment were conducted during the spring seasons of 2006 and 2010 in northern SEA, respectively, to characterize the chemical, physical, and radiative properties of biomass-burning emissions near the source regions, and assess their effects. This paper provides an overview of results from these two campaigns and related studies collected in this special issue, entitled "Observation, modeling and impact studies of biomass burning and pollution in the SE Asian Environment". This volume includes 28 papers, which provide a synopsis of the experiments, regional weather/climate, chemical characterization of biomass-burning aerosols and related pollutants in source and sink regions, the spatial distribution of air toxics (atmospheric mercury and dioxins) in source and remote areas, a characterization of aerosol physical, optical, and radiative properties, as well as modeling and impact studies. These studies, taken together, provide the first relatively complete dataset of aerosol chemistry and physical observations conducted in the source/sink region in the northern SEA, with particular emphasis on the marine boundary layer and lower free troposphere (LFT). The data, analysis and modeling included in these papers advance our present knowledge of source characterization of biomass-burning pollutants near the source regions as well as the physical and chemical processes along transport pathways. In addition, we raise key questions to be addressed by a coming deployment during springtime 2013 in northern SEA, named 7-SEAS/BASELInE (Biomass-burning Aerosols & Stratocumulus Environment: Lifecycles and Interactions Experiment). This campaign will include a synergistic approach for further exploring many key atmospheric processes (e.g., complex aerosol-cloud interactions) and impacts of biomass burning on the surface-atmosphere energy budgets during the lifecycles of biomass-burning emissions.