Articles | Volume 16, issue 4
Atmos. Chem. Phys., 16, 1907–1918, 2016
Atmos. Chem. Phys., 16, 1907–1918, 2016

Research article 19 Feb 2016

Research article | 19 Feb 2016

Sensitivity of simulated CO2 concentration to sub-annual variations in fossil fuel CO2 emissions

Xia Zhang1,2, Kevin R. Gurney1, Peter Rayner3, David Baker4, and Yu-ping Liu5 Xia Zhang et al.
  • 1School of Life Science, Arizona State University, Tempe, AZ, USA
  • 2College of Science, San Diego State University, San Diego, CA, USA
  • 3Earth Sciences, University of Melbourne, Melbourne, Australia
  • 4Cooperative Institute for Research in the Atmosphere, Colorado State University, Fort Collins, CO, USA
  • 5Laboratory for Atmosphere, Science Systems and Applications, Inc., NASA Goddard Space Flight Center Code 614 Greenbelt, MD, USA

Abstract. Recent advances in fossil fuel CO2 (FFCO2) emission inventories enable sensitivity tests of simulated atmospheric CO2 concentrations to sub-annual variations in FFCO2 emissions and what this implies for the interpretation of observed CO2. Six experiments are conducted to investigate the potential impact of three cycles of FFCO2 emission variability (diurnal, weekly and monthly) using a global tracer transport model. Results show an annual FFCO2 rectification varying from −1.35 to +0.13 ppm from the combination of all three cycles. This rectification is driven by a large negative diurnal FFCO2 rectification due to the covariation of diurnal FFCO2 emissions and diurnal vertical mixing, as well as a smaller positive seasonal FFCO2 rectification driven by the covariation of monthly FFCO2 emissions and monthly atmospheric transport. The diurnal FFCO2 emissions are responsible for a diurnal FFCO2 concentration amplitude of up to 9.12 ppm at the grid cell scale. Similarly, the monthly FFCO2 emissions are responsible for a simulated seasonal CO2 amplitude of up to 6.11 ppm at the grid cell scale. The impact of the diurnal FFCO2 emissions, when only sampled in the local afternoon, is also important, causing an increase of +1.13 ppmv at the grid cell scale. The simulated CO2 concentration impacts from the diurnally and seasonally varying FFCO2 emissions are centered over large source regions in the Northern Hemisphere, extending to downwind regions. This study demonstrates the influence of sub-annual variations in FFCO2 emissions on simulated CO2 concentration and suggests that inversion studies must take account of these variations in the affected regions.

Short summary
This study presents a complete exploration of the space/time effect of time variations (diurnal, weekly, monthly) in fossil fuel emission on CO2 concentration. The paper identified rectifier effect at local to regional scale that is expected from fossil fuel emission and compared to biospheric rectification, and then extends the subject to column measurement. This study demonstrates the importance of considering sub-annual fossil fuel emissions on model simulation and related studies.
Final-revised paper