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Constraints on emissions of carbon monoxide, methane, and a suite of hydrocarbons in the Colorado Front Range using observations of 14CO2

Description

Atmospheric radiocarbon ([superscript 14]C) represents an important observational constraint on emissions of fossil-fuel derived carbon into the atmosphere due to the absence of [superscript 14]C in fossil fuel reservoirs. The

Atmospheric radiocarbon ([superscript 14]C) represents an important observational constraint on emissions of fossil-fuel derived carbon into the atmosphere due to the absence of [superscript 14]C in fossil fuel reservoirs. The high sensitivity and precision that accelerator mass spectrometry (AMS) affords in atmospheric [superscript 14]C analysis has greatly increased the potential for using such measurements to evaluate bottom-up emissions inventories of fossil fuel CO[subscript 2] (CO[subscript 2]ff), as well as those for other co-emitted species. Here we use observations of [superscript 14]CO[subscript 2] and a series of primary hydrocarbons and combustion tracers from discrete air samples collected between June 2009 and September 2010 at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Boulder Atmospheric Observatory (BAO; Lat: 40.050° N, Lon: 105.004° W) to derive emission ratios of each species with respect to CO[subscript 2]ff. The BAO tower is situated at the boundary of the Denver metropolitan area to the south and a large industrial and agricultural region to the north and east, making it an ideal location to study the contrasting mix of emissions from the activities in each region. The species considered in this analysis are carbon monoxide (CO), methane (CH[subscript 4]), acetylene (C[subscript 2]H[subscript 2]), benzene (C[subscript 6]H[subscript 6]), and C[subscript 3]–C[subscript 5] alkanes. We estimate emissions for a subset of these species by using the Vulcan high resolution CO2ff emission data product as a reference. We find that CO is overestimated in the 2008 National Emissions Inventory (NEI08) by a factor of ~2. A close evaluation of the inventory suggests that the ratio of CO emitted per unit fuel burned from on-road gasoline vehicles is likely over-estimated by a factor of 2.5. Using a wind-directional analysis of the data, we find enhanced concentrations of CH[subscript 4], relative to CO[subscript 2]ff, in air influenced by emissions to the north and east of the BAO tower when compared to air influenced by emissions in the Denver metro region to the south. Along with enhanced CH[subscript 4], the strongest enhancements of the C[subscript 3]–C[subscript 5] alkanes are also found in the north and east wind sector, suggesting that both the alkane and CH[subscript 4] enhancements are sourced from oil and gas fields located to the northeast, though it was not possible to rule out the contribution of non oil and gas CH[subscript 4] sources.

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Date Created
  • 2013-11-15

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Assessment of uncertainties of an aircraft-based mass balance approach for quantifying urban greenhouse gas emissions

Description

Urban environments are the primary contributors to global anthropogenic carbon emissions. Because much of the growth in CO[subscript 2] emissions will originate from cities, there is a need to develop,

Urban environments are the primary contributors to global anthropogenic carbon emissions. Because much of the growth in CO[subscript 2] emissions will originate from cities, there is a need to develop, assess, and improve measurement and modeling strategies for quantifying and monitoring greenhouse gas emissions from large urban centers. In this study the uncertainties in an aircraft-based mass balance approach for quantifying carbon dioxide and methane emissions from an urban environment, focusing on Indianapolis, IN, USA, are described. The relatively level terrain of Indianapolis facilitated the application of mean wind fields in the mass balance approach. We investigate the uncertainties in our aircraft-based mass balance approach by (1) assessing the sensitivity of the measured flux to important measurement and analysis parameters including wind speed, background CO[subscript 2] and CH[subscript 4], boundary layer depth, and interpolation technique, and (2) determining the flux at two or more downwind distances from a point or area source (with relatively large source strengths such as solid waste facilities and a power generating station) in rapid succession, assuming that the emission flux is constant. When we quantify the precision in the approach by comparing the estimated emissions derived from measurements at two or more downwind distances from an area or point source, we find that the minimum and maximum repeatability were 12 and 52%, with an average of 31%. We suggest that improvements in the experimental design can be achieved by careful determination of the background concentration, monitoring the evolution of the boundary layer through the measurement period, and increasing the number of downwind horizontal transect measurements at multiple altitudes within the boundary layer.

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Date Created
  • 2014-09-02