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Atmospheric Measurement Techniques An interactive open-access journal of the European Geosciences Union
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https://doi.org/10.5194/amt-2019-414
© Author(s) 2020. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.
https://doi.org/10.5194/amt-2019-414
© Author(s) 2020. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Submitted as: research article 16 Jan 2020

Submitted as: research article | 16 Jan 2020

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This preprint is currently under review for the journal AMT.

Towards space-borne monitoring of localized CO2 emissions: an instrument concept and first performance assessment

Johan Strandgren1, David Krutz2, Jonas Wilzewski1, Carsten Paproth2, Ilse Sebastian2, Kevin R. Gurney3, Jianming Liang4, Anke Roiger1, and André Butz5 Johan Strandgren et al.
  • 1Deutsches Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt, Institut für Physik der Atmosphäre, Oberpfaffenhofen, Germany
  • 2Deutsches Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt, Institut für Optische Sensorsysteme, Berlin-Adlershof, Germany
  • 3School of Informatics, Computing and Cyber Systems, Northern Arizona University, Flagstaff, AZ, USA
  • 4School of Life Sciences, Arizona State University, Tempe, AZ, USA
  • 5Institut für Umweltphysik, Universität Heidelberg, Heidelberg, Germany

Abstract. The UNFCCC (United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change) requires the nations of the world to report their carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions. Independent verification of these reported emissions is a corner stone for advancing towards emission accounting and reduction measures agreed upon in the Paris agreement. In this paper, we present the concept and first performance assessment of a compact space-borne imaging spectrometer that could support the task of "monitoring, verification, reporting" (MVR) of CO2 emissions worldwide. With a single spectral window in the short-wave infrared spectral region and a spatial resolution of 50 x 50 m2, the goal is to reliably estimate the CO2 emissions from localized sources down to a source strength of approx. 1 MtCO2 yr-1, hence complementing other planned CO2 monitoring missions, like the planned European Carbon Constellation (CO2M). Resolving CO2 plumes also from medium-sized power plants (1–10 MtCO2 yr-1) is of key importance for independent quantification of CO2 emissions from the coal-fired power plant sector.

Through radiative transfer simulations, including a realistic instrument noise model and a global trial ensemble covering various geophysical scenarios, it is shown that an instrument noise error of 1.1 ppm (1σ) can be achieved for the retrieval of the column-averaged dry-air mole fraction of CO2 (XCO2). Despite limited amount of information from a single spectral window and a relatively coarse spectral resolution, scattering by atmospheric aerosol and cirrus can be partly accounted for in the XCO2 retrieval, with deviations of at most 4.0 ppm from the true abundance for 68 % of the scenes in the global trial ensemble.

We further simulate the ability of the proposed instrument concept to observe CO2 plumes from single power plants in an urban area using high-resolution CO2 emission and surface albedo data for the city of Indianapolis. Given the preliminary instrument design and the corresponding instrument noise error, emission plumes from point sources with an emission rate down to the order of 0.3 MtCO2 yr-1 can be resolved, i.e. well below the target source strength of 1 MtCO2 yr-1. Hence, the proposed instrument concept could be able to resolve and quantify the CO2 plumes from localized point sources responsible for approx. 90 % of the power plant CO2 emission budget, assuming global coverage through a fleet of sensors and favorable conditions with respect to illumination and particle scattering.

Johan Strandgren et al.

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Short summary
This paper presents the concept of a space-borne imaging spectrometer targeting the routine monitoring of CO2 emissions from localized point sources down to an emission strength of about 1 MtCO2 yr-1. Using high-resolution CO2 emission and albedo data, it is shown that CO2 plumes from point sources with an emission strength down to the order of 0.3 MtCO2 yr-1 can be resolved in an urban environment (when limited by instrument noise only), hence leaving some margin for additional error sources.
This paper presents the concept of a space-borne imaging spectrometer targeting the routine...
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