A comprehensive emission inventory of biogenic volatile organic compounds in Europe: improved seasonality and land-cover
Biogenic volatile organic compounds (BVOC) emitted from vegetation are important for the formation of secondary pollutants such as ozone and secondary organic aerosols (SOA) in the atmosphere. Therefore, BVOC emission are an important input for air quality models. To model these emissions with high spatial resolution, the accuracy of the underlying vegetation inventory is crucial. We present a BVOC emission model that accommodates different vegetation inventories and uses satellite-based measurements of greenness instead of pre-defined vegetation periods. This approach to seasonality implicitly treats effects caused by water or nutrient availability, altitude and latitude on a plant stand. Additionally, we test the influence of proposed seasonal variability in enzyme activity on BVOC emissions. In its present setup, the emission model calculates hourly emissions of isoprene, monoterpenes, sesquiterpenes and the oxygenated volatile organic compounds (OVOC) methanol, formaldehyde, formic acid, ethanol, acetaldehyde, acetone and acetic acid. In this study, emissions based on three different vegetation inventories are compared with each other and diurnal and seasonal variations in Europe are investigated for the year 2006. Two of these vegetation inventories require information on tree-cover as an input. We compare three different land-cover inventories (USGS GLCC, GLC2000 and Globcover 2.2) with respect to tree-cover. The often-used USGS GLCC land-cover inventory leads to a severe reduction of BVOC emissions due to a potential miss-attribution of broad-leaved trees and reduced tree-cover compared to the two other land-cover inventories. To account for uncertainties in the land-cover classification, we introduce land-cover correction factors for each relevant land-use category to adjust the tree-cover. The results are very sensitive to these factors within the plausible range. For June 2006, total monthly BVOC emissions decreased up to −27% with minimal and increased up to +71% with maximal factors, while in January 2006, the changes in monthly BVOC emissions were −54 and +56% with minimal and maximal factors, respectively. The new seasonality approach leads to a reduction in the annual emissions compared with non-adjusted data. The strongest reduction occurs in OVOC (up to −32%), the weakest in isoprene (as little as −19%). If also enzyme seasonality is taken into account, however, isoprene reacts with the steepest decrease of annual emissions, which are reduced by −44% to −49%, annual emissions of monoterpenes reduce between −30 and −35%. The sensitivity of the model to changes in temperature depends on the climatic zone but not on the vegetation inventory. The sensitivity is higher for temperature increases of 3 K (+31% to +64%) than decreases by the same amount (−20 to −35%). The climatic zones "Cold except summer" and "arid" are most sensitive to temperature changes in January for isoprene and monoterpenes, respectively, while in June, "polar" is most sensitive to temperature for both isoprene and monoterpenes. Our model predicts the oxygenated volatile organic compounds to be the most abundant fraction of the annual European emissions (3571–5328 Gg yr −1), followed by monoterpenes (2964–4124 Gg yr −1), isoprene (1450–2650 Gg yr −1) and sesquiterpenes (150–257 Gg yr −1). We find regions with high isoprene emissions (most notably the Iberian Peninsula), but overall, oxygenated VOC dominate with 43–45% (depending on the vegetation inventory) contribution to the total annual BVOC emissions in Europe. Isoprene contributes between 18–21%, monoterpenes 33–36% and sesquiterpenes contribute 1–2%. We compare the concentrations of biogenic species simulated by an air quality model with measurements of isoprene and monoterpenes in Hohenpeissenberg (Germany) for both summer and winter. The agreement between observed and modelled concentrations is better in summer than in winter. This can partly be explained with the difficulty to model weather conditions in winter accurately, but also with the increased anthropogenic influence on the concentrations of BVOC compounds in winter. Our results suggest that land-cover inventories used to derive tree-cover must be chosen with care. Also, uncertainties in the classification of land-cover pixels must be taken into account and remain high. This problem must be addressed together with the remote sensing community. Our new approach using a greenness index for addressing seasonality of vegetation can be implemented easily in existing models. The importance of OVOC for air quality should be more deeply addressed by future studies, especially in smog chambers. Also, the fate of BVOC from the dominant region of the Iberian Peninsula should be studied more in detail.