Accounting for the vertical distribution of emissions in atmospheric CO<sub>2</sub> simulations

Brunner, Dominik; Kuhlmann, Gerrit; Marshall, Julia; Clément, Valentin; Fuhrer, Oliver; Broquet, Grégoire; Löscher, Armin; Meijer, Yasjka

Inverse modeling of anthropogenic and biospheric CO2 fluxes from ground-based and satellite observations critically depends on the accuracy of atmospheric transport simulations. Previous studies emphasized the impact of errors in simulated winds and vertical mixing in the planetary boundary layer, whereas the potential importance of releasing emissions not only at the surface but distributing them in the vertical was largely neglected. Accounting for elevated emissions may be critical, since more than 50 % of CO2 in Europe is emitted by large point sources such as power plants and industrial facilities. In this study, we conduct high-resolution atmospheric simulations of CO2 with the mesoscale Consortium for Small-scale Modeling model extended with a module for the simulation of greenhouse gases (COSMO-GHG) over a domain covering the city of Berlin and several coal-fired power plants in eastern Germany, Poland and Czech Republic. By including separate tracers for anthropogenic CO2 emitted only at the surface or according to realistic, source-dependent profiles, we find that releasing CO2 only at the surface overestimates near-surface CO2 concentrations in the afternoon on average by 14 % in summer and 43 % in winter over the selected model domain. Differences in column-averaged dry air mole XCO2 fractions are smaller, between 5 % in winter and 8 % in summer, suggesting smaller yet non-negligible sensitivities for inversion modeling studies assimilating satellite rather than surface observations. The results suggest that the traditional approach of emitting CO2 only at the surface is problematic and that a proper allocation of emissions in the vertical deserves as much attention as an accurate simulation of atmospheric transport.

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Brunner, Dominik / Kuhlmann, Gerrit / Marshall, Julia / et al: Accounting for the vertical distribution of emissions in atmospheric CO<sub>2</sub> simulations. 2019. Copernicus Publications.

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