Impact of spatial proxies on the representation of bottom-up emission inventories: A satellite-based analysis
Abstract. Spatial proxies used in bottom-up emission inventories to derive the spatial distributions of emissions are usually empirical and involve additional levels of uncertainty. Although uncertainties in current emission inventories have been discussed extensively, uncertainties resulting from improper spatial proxies have rarely been evaluated. In this work, we investigate the impact of spatial proxies on the representation of gridded emissions by comparing six gridded NOx emission datasets over China developed from the same magnitude of emissions and different spatial proxies. GEOS-Chem-modeled tropospheric NO2 vertical columns simulated from different gridded emission inventories are compared with satellite-based columns. The results show that differences between modeled and satellite-based NO2 vertical columns are sensitive to the spatial proxies used in the gridded emission inventories. The total population density is less suitable for allocating NOx emissions than nighttime light data because population density tends to allocate more emissions to rural areas. Determining the exact locations of large emission sources could significantly strengthen the correlation between modeled and observed NO2 vertical columns. Using vehicle population and an updated road network for the on-road transport sector could substantially enhance urban emissions and improve the model performance. When further applying industrial gross domestic product (IGDP) values for the industrial sector, modeled NO2 vertical columns could better capture pollution hotspots in urban areas and exhibit the best performance of the six cases compared to satellite-based NO2 vertical columns (slope = 1.01 and R2 = 0. 85). This analysis provides a framework for information from satellite observations to inform bottom-up inventory development. In the future, more effort should be devoted to the representation of spatial proxies to improve spatial patterns in bottom-up emission inventories.