Spatially resolving methane emissions in California: constraints from the CalNex aircraft campaign and from present (GOSAT, TES) and future (TROPOMI, geostationary) satellite observations
Abstract. We apply a continental-scale inverse modeling system for North America based on the GEOS-Chem model to optimize California methane emissions at 1/2° × 2/3° horizontal resolution using atmospheric observations from the CalNex aircraft campaign (May–June 2010) and from satellites. Inversion of the CalNex data yields a best estimate for total California methane emissions of 2.86 ± 0.21 Tg a−1, compared with 1.92 Tg a−1 in the EDGAR v4.2 emission inventory used as a priori and 1.51 Tg a−1 in the California Air Resources Board (CARB) inventory used for state regulations of greenhouse gas emissions. These results are consistent with a previous Lagrangian inversion of the CalNex data. Our inversion provides 12 independent pieces of information to constrain the geographical distribution of emissions within California. Attribution to individual source types indicates dominant contributions to emissions from landfills/wastewater (1.1 Tg a−1), livestock (0.87 Tg a−1), and gas/oil (0.64 Tg a−1). EDGAR v4.2 underestimates emissions from livestock, while CARB underestimates emissions from landfills/wastewater and gas/oil. Current satellite observations from GOSAT can constrain methane emissions in the Los Angeles Basin but are too sparse to constrain emissions quantitatively elsewhere in California (they can still be qualitatively useful to diagnose inventory biases). Los Angeles Basin emissions derived from CalNex and GOSAT inversions are 0.42 ± 0.08 and 0.31 ± 0.08 Tg a−1 that the future TROPOMI satellite instrument (2015 launch) will be able to constrain California methane emissions at a detail comparable to the CalNex aircraft campaign. Geostationary satellite observations offer even greater potential for constraining methane emissions in the future.