Preprints
https://doi.org/10.5194/acp-2020-1256
https://doi.org/10.5194/acp-2020-1256

  15 Jan 2021

15 Jan 2021

Review status: this preprint is currently under review for the journal ACP.

Background conditions for an urban greenhouse gas network in the Washington, D.C. and Baltimore metropolitan region

Anna Karion1, Israel Lopez-Coto2, Sharon M. Gourdji1, Kimberly Mueller1, Subhomoy Ghosh1,3, William Callahan4, Michael Stock4, Elizabeth DiGangi4, Steve Prinzivalli4, and James Whetstone1 Anna Karion et al.
  • 1Special Programs Office, National Institute of Standards and Technology, Gaithersburg, MD, 20899, USA
  • 2Fire Research Division, National Institute of Standards and Technology, Gaithersburg, MD, 20899, USA
  • 3Center for Research Computing, University of Notre Dame, South Bend, IN, 46556, USA
  • 4Earth Networks, Germantown, MD, 20876, USA

Abstract. As city governments take steps towards establishing emissions reduction targets, the atmospheric research community is increasingly able to assist in tracking emissions reductions. Researchers have established systems for observing atmospheric greenhouse gases in urban areas with the aim of attributing greenhouse gas concentration enhancements (and thus, emissions) to the region in question. However, to attribute enhancements to a particular region, one must isolate the component of the observed concentration attributable to fluxes inside the region by removing the background, which is the component due to fluxes outside. In this study, we demonstrate methods to construct several versions of a background for our carbon dioxide and methane observing network in the Washington, DC and Baltimore, MD metropolitan region. Some of these versions rely on transport and flux models, while others are based on observations upwind of the domain. First, we evaluate the backgrounds in a synthetic data framework, then we evaluate against real observations from our urban network. We find that backgrounds based on upwind observations capture the variability better than model-based backgrounds, although care must be taken to avoid bias from biospheric carbon dioxide fluxes near background stations in summer. Model-based backgrounds also perform well when upwind fluxes can be modeled accurately. Our study evaluates different background methods and provides guidance determining background methodology that can impact the design of urban monitoring networks.

Anna Karion et al.

Status: open (until 12 Mar 2021)

Comment types: AC – author | RC – referee | CC – community | EC – editor | CEC – chief editor | : Report abuse
  • RC1: 'Comment on acp-2020-1256', Zachary Barkley, 29 Jan 2021 reply
  • RC2: 'Comment on acp-2020-1256', Grant Allen, 03 Feb 2021 reply

Anna Karion et al.

Anna Karion et al.

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Short summary
Estimating city emissions based on atmospheric observations requires that the portion of observed greenhouse gases that originated in the city be separated from the portion that originated outside the city, also known as the background concentration. Here, we investigate different methods to determine background concentrations for the Washington, DC and Baltimore, MD region and evaluate how well those methods work and the uncertainties they involve.
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