Articles | Volume 15, issue 4
Research article
18 Feb 2015
Research article |  | 18 Feb 2015

An attempt at estimating Paris area CO2 emissions from atmospheric concentration measurements

F. M. Bréon, G. Broquet, V. Puygrenier, F. Chevallier, I. Xueref-Remy, M. Ramonet, E. Dieudonné, M. Lopez, M. Schmidt, O. Perrussel, and P. Ciais

Abstract. Atmospheric concentration measurements are used to adjust the daily to monthly budget of fossil fuel CO2 emissions of the Paris urban area from the prior estimates established by the Airparif local air quality agency. Five atmospheric monitoring sites are available, including one at the top of the Eiffel Tower. The atmospheric inversion is based on a Bayesian approach, and relies on an atmospheric transport model with a spatial resolution of 2 km with boundary conditions from a global coarse grid transport model. The inversion adjusts prior knowledge about the anthropogenic and biogenic CO2 fluxes from the Airparif inventory and an ecosystem model, respectively, with corrections at a temporal resolution of 6 h, while keeping the spatial distribution from the emission inventory. These corrections are based on assumptions regarding the temporal autocorrelation of prior emissions uncertainties within the daily cycle, and from day to day.

The comparison of the measurements against the atmospheric transport simulation driven by the a priori CO2 surface fluxes shows significant differences upwind of the Paris urban area, which suggests a large and uncertain contribution from distant sources and sinks to the CO2 concentration variability. This contribution advocates that the inversion should aim at minimising model–data misfits in upwind–downwind gradients rather than misfits in mole fractions at individual sites. Another conclusion of the direct model–measurement comparison is that the CO2 variability at the top of the Eiffel Tower is large and poorly represented by the model for most wind speeds and directions. The model's inability to reproduce the CO2 variability at the heart of the city makes such measurements ill-suited for the inversion. This and the need to constrain the budgets for the whole city suggests the assimilation of upwind–downwind mole fraction gradients between sites at the edge of the urban area only.

The inversion significantly improves the agreement between measured and modelled concentration gradients. Realistic emissions are retrieved for two 30-day periods and suggest a significant overestimate by the AirParif inventory. Similar inversions over longer periods are necessary for a proper evaluation of the optimised CO2 emissions against independent data.

Final-revised paper