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Atmospheric Measurement Techniques An interactive open-access journal of the European Geosciences Union
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© Author(s) 2019. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.
© Author(s) 2019. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Submitted as: research article 17 Jun 2019

Submitted as: research article | 17 Jun 2019

Review status
This discussion paper is a preprint. A revision of the manuscript is under review for the journal Atmospheric Measurement Techniques (AMT).

Detectability of CO2 emission plumes of cities and power plants with the Copernicus Anthropogenic CO2 Monitoring (CO2M) mission

Gerrit Kuhlmann1, Grégoire Broquet2, Julia Marshall3, Valentin Clément4,5, Armin Löscher6, Yasjka Meijer6, and Dominik Brunner1 Gerrit Kuhlmann et al.
  • 1Empa, Swiss Federal Laboratories for Materials Science and Technology, Dübendorf, Switzerland
  • 2Laboratoire des Sciences du Climat et de l’Environment, LSCE/IPSL, CEA-CNRS-UVSQ, Université Paris-Saclay, Gif-sur-Yvette, France
  • 3Max Planck Institute for Biogeochemistry (MPI-BGC), Jena, Germany
  • 4Center for Climate Systems Modelling (C2SM), ETH Zurich, Zurich, Switzerland
  • 5MeteoSwiss, Kloten, Switzerland
  • 6European Space Agency (ESA), ESTEC, Noordwijk, The Netherlands

Abstract. High-resolution atmospheric transport simulations were used to investigate the potential for detecting carbon dioxide (CO2) plumes of the city of Berlin and neighboring power stations with the Copernicus Anthropogenic Carbon Dioxide Monitoring (CO2M) mission, which is a proposed constellation of CO2 satellites with imaging capabilities. The potential for detecting plumes was studied for satellite images of CO2 alone or in combination with images of nitrogen dioxide (NO2) and carbon monoxide (CO) to investigate the added value of measurements of other gases co-emitted with CO2 that have better signal-to-noise ratios. The additional NO2 and CO images were either generated for instruments on the same CO2M satellites (2×2 km2 resolution) or for the Sentinel-5 instrument (7×7 km2) assumed to fly two hours earlier than CO2M. Realistic CO2, CO and NO2 fields were simulated at 1×1 km2 horizontal resolution with COSMO-GHG model for the year 2015, and used as input for an orbit simulator to generate synthetic observations of columns of CO2, CO and NO2 for constellations of up to six satellites. A new plume detection algorithm was applied to detect coherent structures in the images of CO2, NO2 or CO against instrument noise and variability in background levels. Although six satellites with an assumed swath of 250 km were sufficient to overpass Berlin on a daily basis, only about 50 out of 365 plumes per year could be observed in conditions suitable for emission estimation due to frequent cloud cover. With the CO2 instrument only 6 and 16 of these 50 plumes could be detected assuming a high (σVEG50 = 1.0 ppm) and low noise (σVEG50 = 0.5 ppm) scenario, respectively, because the CO2 signals were often too weak. A CO instrument with specifications similar to the Sentinel-5 mission performed worse than the CO2 instrument, while the number of detectable plumes could be significantly increased to about 35 plumes with an NO2 instrument. Using NO2 observations from the Sentinel-5 platform instead resulted in a significant spatial mismatch between NO2 and CO2 plumes due to the two hour time difference between Sentinel-5 and CO2M. The plumes of the coal-fired power plant Jänschwalde were easier to detect with the CO2 instrument (about 40–45 plumes per year), but again, an NO2 instrument performed significantly better (about 70 plumes). Auxiliary measurements of NO2 were thus found to greatly enhance the capability of detecting the location of CO2 plumes, which will be invaluable for the quantification of CO2 emissions from large point sources.

Gerrit Kuhlmann et al.
Interactive discussion
Status: final response (author comments only)
Status: final response (author comments only)
AC: Author comment | RC: Referee comment | SC: Short comment | EC: Editor comment
Gerrit Kuhlmann et al.
Gerrit Kuhlmann et al.
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Publications Copernicus
Short summary
The Copernicus Anthropogenic CO2 Monitoring (CO2M) mission is a proposed constellation of imaging satellites with a CO2 instrument as main payload and optionally instruments for NO2, CO and aerosols. This study demonstrates the huge benefit of an NO2 instrument for detecting city plumes and weak point sources. Its main advantages are the higher signal-to-noise ratio and the lower sensitivity to clouds that significantly increases the number of observations available for quantifying CO2 emission.
The Copernicus Anthropogenic CO2 Monitoring (CO2M) mission is a proposed constellation of...