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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 Nov 2020

12 Nov 2020

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

Determination of the Emission Rates of CO2 Point Sources with Airborne Lidar

Sebastian Wolff, Gerhard Ehret, Christoph Kiemle, Axel Amediek, Mathieu Quatrevalet, Martin Wirth, and Andreas Fix Sebastian Wolff et al.
  • Deutsches Zentrum für Luft– und Raumfahrt (DLR), Institut für Physik der Atmosphäre, Oberpfaffenhofen, Germany

Abstract. Anthropogenic point sources, such as coal-fired power plants, produce a major share of global CO2 emissions. International climate agreements demand their independent monitoring. Due to the high amount of point sources and their global spatial distribution, a mobile measurement approach with fast spatial coverage is needed. Active remote sensing measurements by airborne lidar show much promise in this respect. The integrated-path differential-absorption lidar CHARM–F is installed onboard an aircraft, in order to detect weighted vertical columns of CO2 mixing ratios, below the aircraft along its flight track. During the Carbon Dioxide and Methane mission (CoMet) in spring 2018, airborne greenhouse gas measurements were performed, focusing on the major European sources of anthropogenic CO2 emissions, i.e. large coal–fired power plants. The flights were designed to transect isolated exhaust plumes. From the resulting enhancement in the CO2 mixings ratios, emission rates can be derived in terms of the cross–sectional flux method. On average, we find our results roughly corresponding to reported annual emission rates, but observe significant variations between individual overflights ranging up to a factor of 2. We suppose that these variations are mostly driven by turbulence. This hypothesis is supported by a high–resolution large eddy simulation that enables us to give a qualitative assessment of the influence of plume inhomogeneity on the cross–sectional flux method. Our findings suggest avoiding periods of strong turbulence, e.g. midday and afternoon. More favorable measurement conditions prevail during nighttime and morning. Since lidars are intrinsically independent of sunlight, they have a significant advantage in this regard.

Sebastian Wolff et al.

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Sebastian Wolff et al.

Video supplement

Animated GIF of simulated plume and virtual flight tracks Wolff, S.

Sebastian Wolff et al.


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Publications Copernicus
Short summary
We report on CO2 emissions of a coal-fired power plant derived from flight measurements, performed with the IPDA lidar CHARM-F during the CoMet campaign, in spring 2018. Despite the results being in broad agreement with reported emissions, we observe strong variations between successive flyovers. Using a high-resolution large eddy simulation, we identify strong atmospheric turbulence as the cause for the variations and recommend more favorable measurement conditions for future campaign planning.
We report on CO2 emissions of a coal-fired power plant derived from flight measurements,...