15 Mar 2022
15 Mar 2022
Status: this preprint is currently under review for the journal AMT.

Complementing XCO2 imagery with ground-based CO2 and 14CO2 measurements to monitor CO2 emissions from fossil fuels on a regional to local scale

Elise Potier1, Grégoire Broquet1, Yilong Wang1,2, Diego Santaren1, Antoine Berchet1, Isabelle Pison1, Julia Marshall3,a, Phillipe Ciais1, François-Marie Bréon1, and Frédéric Chevallier1 Elise Potier et al.
  • 1Laboratoire des Sciences du Climat et de l’Environnement, LSCE/IPSL, CEA-CNRS-UVSQ, Université Paris-Saclay, F-91191 Gif-sur-Yvette, France
  • 2Key Laboratory of Land Surface Pattern and Simulation, Institute of Geographical Sciences and Natural Resources Research, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing, China
  • 3Max Planck Institute for Biogeochemistry (MPI-BGC), Jena, Germany
  • anow at: Deutsches Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt (DLR), Institut für Physik der Atmosphäre, Oberpfaffenhofen, Germany

Abstract. Various satellite imagers of the vertically integrated column of carbon dioxide (XCO2) are under development to enhance the capabilities for the monitoring of the fossil fuel (FF) CO2 emissions. XCO2 images can be used to detect plumes from cities and large industrial plants, and to quantify the corresponding emissions using atmospheric inversions techniques. However, this potential and the ability to catch the signal from more diffuse FF CO2 sources can be hampered by the mix between these FF signals and a background signal from other types of CO2 surface fluxes, and in particular of biogenic CO2 fluxes. The deployment of dense ground-based air-sampling networks for CO2 and radiocarbon (14CO2) could complement the spaceborne imagery by supporting the separation between the fossil fuel and biogenic or biofuel (BF) CO2 signals. We evaluate this potential complementarity with a high resolution analytical inversion system focused on Northern France, Western Germany, Belgium, Luxembourg and a part of the Netherlands, and with pseudo-data experiments. The inversion system controls the FF and BF emissions from the large urban areas and plants, in addition to regional budgets of more diffuse emissions or of biogenic fluxes (NEE, Net Ecosystem Exchange), at an hourly scale over a whole day. The system assimilates pseudo data from a single track of a 300-km swath XCO2 imager at 2 km resolution and from surface ground-based CO2 and/or 14CO2 networks. It represents the diversity of 14CO2 sources and sinks and not just the dilution of radiocarbon-free FF CO2 emissions. The uncertainty in the resulting FF CO2 emissions at local (urban area/ plant) to regional scales is directly derived and used to assess the potential of the different combinations of observation systems. The assimilation of satellite observations yield estimates of the morning regional emissions with an uncertainty down to 10 % (1 sigma) in the satellite field of view, from an assumed uncertainty of 15 % in the prior estimates. However, it does not provide direct information about emissions outside the satellite field of view and neither about afternoon or nighttime emissions. The co-assimilation of 14CO2 and CO2 data lead to a further reduction of the uncertainty in the estimates of FF emissions. However, this further reduction is significant only in administrative regions with three or more 14CO2 and CO2 sampling sites. The uncertainty in the estimates of 1-day emission in North Rhine-Westphalia, a region with three sampling sites, decreases from 8 to 6.6 % when assimilating the in situ 14CO2 and CO2 data in addition to the satellite data. Furthermore, this new decrease appears to be larger when the ground stations are close to large FF emission areas, providing an additional direct constraint for the estimate of these sources rather than supporting the characterization of the background signal from the NEE and its separation from that of the FF emissions.

Elise Potier et al.

Status: final response (author comments only)

Comment types: AC – author | RC – referee | CC – community | EC – editor | CEC – chief editor | : Report abuse
  • RC1: 'Comment on amt-2022-48', Brad Weir, 04 Apr 2022
    • AC1: 'Reply on RC1', Elise Potier, 25 May 2022
  • RC2: 'Comment on amt-2022-48', Anonymous Referee #2, 09 Apr 2022
    • AC2: 'Reply on RC2', Elise Potier, 25 May 2022

Elise Potier et al.

Elise Potier et al.


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Short summary
Atmospheric inversion at local to regional scale over Europe and pseudo-data assimilation are used to evaluate how CO2 and 14CO2 ground-based measurement networks could complement satellite CO2 imagers to monitor fossil fuel (FF) CO2 emissions. This combination significantly improve precision in the FF emission estimates in areas with dense network but does not strongly support the separation of the FF from the biogenic signals or the spatio-temporal extrapolation of the satellite information.