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Atmospheric Measurement Techniques An interactive open-access journal of the European Geosciences Union
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© Author(s) 2020. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.
© Author(s) 2020. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

  12 Aug 2020

12 Aug 2020

Review status
This preprint is currently under review for the journal AMT.

Munich permanent urban greenhouse gas column observing network

Florian Dietrich, Jia Chen, Benno Voggenreiter, Patrick Aigner, Nico Nachtigall, and Björn Reger Florian Dietrich et al.
  • Environmental Sensing and Modeling, Technical University of Munich (TUM), Munich, Germany

Abstract. In order to mitigate climate change, it is crucial to understand the urban greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions precisely as more than two third of the anthropogenic GHG emissions worldwide originate from cities. Nowadays, urban emission estimates are mainly based on bottom-up calculation approaches with high uncertainties. A reliable and long-term top-down measurement approach could reduce the uncertainty of these emission inventories significantly.

We present the world’s first urban sensor network that is permanently measuring GHGs based on the principle of differential column measurements (DCM) starting in summer 2019. These column measurements are relatively insensitive to vertical redistribution of tracer masses and surface fluxes upwind of the city. Therefore, they are well-suited to quantify GHG emissions.

However, setting up such a stationary sensor network requires an automated measurement principle. We developed our own fully automated enclosure systems for measuring CO2, CH4 and CO column-averaged concentrations with a solar-tracking Fourier Transform spectrometer (EM27/SUN) in a fully automated and long-term manner. This includes also a software that starts and stops the measurements autonomously and can be used independently from the enclosure system.

Furthermore, we demonstrate the novel applications of such a sensor network by presenting the measurement results of our five sensor systems that are deployed in and around Munich. These results include the seasonal cycle of CO2 since 2015 as well as concentration gradient measurements upwind and downwind of the city. Thanks to the automation we were also able to continue the measurements during the COVID-19 lockdown in spring 2020. By correlating the CO2 column concentration gradients to the traffic amount, we demonstrate that our network is well capable to detect variations in urban emissions.

The measurements from our unique sensor network will be combined with an inverse modeling framework that we are currently developing, in order to monitor urban GHG emissions over years, identify unknown emission sources and assess how effective the current mitigation strategies are. In summary, our achievements in automating column measurements of GHGs will allow researchers all over the world to establish this novel measurement approach as a new standard for determining GHG emissions.

Florian Dietrich et al.

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Florian Dietrich et al.

Florian Dietrich et al.


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Latest update: 23 Sep 2020
Publications Copernicus
Short summary
Climate change is one of the defining issues of our time. However, most of the current emission estimates are based on calculations, not on actual measurements as it is difficult to quantify the emissions of large sources such as cities. This study shows how to use the relatively new approach of column measurements to quantify urban greenhouse gas emissions in an exact way using just a few compact measurement systems. The approach can be used to evaluate the effectiveness of mitigation policies.
Climate change is one of the defining issues of our time. However, most of the current emission...