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Discussion papers | Copyright
https://doi.org/10.5194/amt-2018-121
© Author(s) 2018. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Research article 23 May 2018

Research article | 23 May 2018

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This discussion paper is a preprint. It is a manuscript under review for the journal Atmospheric Measurement Techniques (AMT).

Comparative analysis of low-Earth orbit (TROPOMI) and geostationary (GeoCARB, GEO-CAPE) satellite instruments for constraining methane emissions on fine regional scales: application to the Southeast US

Jian-Xiong Sheng, Daniel J. Jacob, Joannes D. Maasakkers, Yuzhong Zhang, and Melissa P. Sulprizio Jian-Xiong Sheng et al.
  • School of Engineering and Applied Sciences, Harvard University, Cambridge, MA, USA

Abstract. We conduct observing system simulation experiments (OSSEs) to compare the ability of future satellite measurements of atmospheric methane columns (TROPOMI, GeoCARB, GEO-CAPE) for constraining methane emissions down to the 25 km scale through inverse analyses. The OSSE uses the GEOS-Chem chemical transport model 0.25˚×0.3125˚ grid resolution) in a 1-week simulation for the Southeast US with 216 emission elements to be optimized through inversion of synthetic satellite observations. Clouds contaminate 73–91% of the viewing scenes depending on pixel size. Comparison of GEOS-Chem to TCCON surface-based methane column observations indicates a model transport error standard deviation of 12ppb, larger than the instrument errors when aggregated on the 25km model grid scale, and with a temporal error correlation of 6 hours. We find that TROPOMI (7×7km2 pixels, daily return time) can provide a coarse regional optimization of methane emissions, and is highly sensitive to cloud cover. The geostationary instruments can do much better and are less sensitive to cloud cover, reflecting both their finer pixel resolution and more frequent observations. The information content from GeoCARB toward constraining methane emissions increases by 20–25% for each doubling of the GeoCARB measurement frequency. Temporal error correlation in the transport model moderates but does not cancel the benefit of more frequent measurements for geostationary instruments. We find that GeoCARB observing twice a day would provide 70% of the information from the nominal GEO-CAPE mission considered by NASA in response to the Decadal Survey of the US National Research Council.

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Short summary
We conduct observing system simulation experiments to compare the ability of future satellite measurements of atmospheric methane columns for constraining methane emissions at the 25 km scale. We find that the geostationary instruments can do much better than TROPOMI and are less sensitive to cloud cover. GeoCARB observing twice a day would provide 70 % of the information from the nominal GEO-CAPE mission considered by NASA in response to the Decadal Survey of the US National Research Council.
We conduct observing system simulation experiments to compare the ability of future satellite...
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