Articles | Volume 16, issue 19
Atmos. Chem. Phys., 16, 12649–12666, 2016
Atmos. Chem. Phys., 16, 12649–12666, 2016

Research article 12 Oct 2016

Research article | 12 Oct 2016

Inverse modeling of pan-Arctic methane emissions at high spatial resolution: what can we learn from assimilating satellite retrievals and using different process-based wetland and lake biogeochemical models?

Zeli Tan1,2, Qianlai Zhuang1,2,3, Daven K. Henze4, Christian Frankenberg5, Ed Dlugokencky6, Colm Sweeney6, Alexander J. Turner7, Motoki Sasakawa8, and Toshinobu Machida8 Zeli Tan et al.
  • 1Department of Earth, Atmospheric, and Planetary Sciences, Purdue University, West Lafayette, Indiana, USA
  • 2Purdue Climate Change Research Center, Purdue University, West Lafayette, Indiana, USA
  • 3Department of Agronomy, Purdue University, West Lafayette, Indiana, USA
  • 4Department of Mechanical Engineering, University of Colorado, Boulder, Colorado, USA
  • 5Jet Propulsion Laboratory/California Institute of Technology, Pasadena, California, USA
  • 6Global Monitoring Division, NOAA Earth System Research Laboratory, Boulder, Colorado, USA
  • 7School of Engineering and Applied Sciences, Harvard University, Cambridge, Massachusetts, USA
  • 8National Institute for Environmental Studies, Tsukuba, Japan

Abstract. Understanding methane emissions from the Arctic, a fast-warming carbon reservoir, is important for projecting future changes in the global methane cycle. Here we optimized methane emissions from north of 60° N (pan-Arctic) regions using a nested-grid high-resolution inverse model that assimilates both high-precision surface measurements and column-average SCanning Imaging Absorption spectroMeter for Atmospheric CHartogrphY (SCIAMACHY) satellite retrievals of methane mole fraction. For the first time, methane emissions from lakes were integrated into an atmospheric transport and inversion estimate, together with prior wetland emissions estimated with six biogeochemical models. In our estimates, in 2005, global methane emissions were in the range of 496.4–511.5 Tg yr−1, and pan-Arctic methane emissions were in the range of 11.9–28.5 Tg yr−1. Methane emissions from pan-Arctic wetlands and lakes were 5.5–14.2 and 2.4–14.2 Tg yr−1, respectively. Methane emissions from Siberian wetlands and lakes are the largest and also have the largest uncertainty. Our results indicate that the uncertainty introduced by different wetland models could be much larger than the uncertainty of each inversion. We also show that assimilating satellite retrievals can reduce the uncertainty of the nested-grid inversions. The significance of lake emissions cannot be identified across the pan-Arctic by high-resolution inversions, but it is possible to identify high lake emissions from some specific regions. In contrast to global inversions, high-resolution nested-grid inversions perform better in estimating near-surface methane concentrations.

Short summary
Methane emissions from the pan-Arctic could be important in understanding the global carbon cycle but are still poorly constrained to date. This study demonstrated that satellite retrievals can be used to reduce the uncertainty of the estimates of these emissions. We also provided additional evidence for the existence of large methane emissions from pan-Arctic lakes in the Siberian yedoma permafrost region. We found that biogeochemical models should be improved for better estimates.
Final-revised paper