17 May 2022
 | 17 May 2022
Status: this preprint is currently under review for the journal ACP.

Understanding greenhouse gas (GHG) column concentrations in Munich using WRF

Xinxu Zhao, Jia Chen, Julia Marschall, Michal Gałkowski, Stephan Hachinger, Florian Dietrich, Ankit Shekhar, Johannes Gensheimer, Adrian Wenzel, and Christoph Gerbig

Abstract. To address ambitious goals of carbon neutrality set at national and city scales, a number of atmospheric networks have been deployed to monitor greenhouse gas (GHG) concentrations in and around cities. To convert these measurements into estimates of emissions from cities, atmospheric models are used to simulate the transport of various tracer gases and help interpret these measurements. We set up a modelling framework using the Weather Research and Forecasting (WRF) model applied at a high spatial resolution (up to 400 m) to simulate the atmospheric transport of GHGs and interpret the observations provided by the Munich Urban Carbon Column Network (MUCCnet). Building on previous analyses using similar measurements performed within a campaign for the city of Berlin and its surroundings (Zhao et al., 2019), our modelling framework has been improved regarding the initialization of tagged tracers, model settings, and input data. To assess the model performance, we validate the modelled output against two local weather stations and observed column GHG concentrations provided by MUCCnet from 1 to 30 August 2018. The modelled wind matches well with the measurements from the weather stations, with wind speeds slightly overestimated. The measured slant column concentrations of GHGs and their variability are generally reproduced by the model, with a bias in CO2 of around 3.7 ppm that can be attributed to the initial and boundary conditions used. The differential column method (DCM) has been applied to cancel out the influence from the background concentrations of CO2. We optimize its application by selecting suitable days on which the assumption of the DCM holds true: a relatively uniform air mass travels over the city, passing from an upwind site to a downwind site. In particular, the Stochastic Time-Inverted Lagrangian Transport model (STILT) is used here and driven by our WRF modelled meteorological fields to obtain footprints (i.e., the potential areas of influence for signals observed at specific points), further used for interpreting measurement results. Combining these footprints with knowledge of local emission sources, we find evidence of CH4 sources near Munich that are missing or underestimated in the emission inventory used. This demonstrates the potential of this data-model framework to constrain local sources and improve emission inventories.

Xinxu Zhao et al.

Status: final response (author comments only)

Comment types: AC – author | RC – referee | CC – community | EC – editor | CEC – chief editor | : Report abuse
  • RC1: 'Comment on acp-2022-281', Anonymous Referee #1, 19 Oct 2022
    • AC1: 'Reply on RC1', Xinxu Zhao, 14 Apr 2023
  • RC2: 'Comment on acp-2022-281', Anonymous Referee #2, 16 Dec 2022
    • AC2: 'Reply on RC2', Xinxu Zhao, 14 Apr 2023

Xinxu Zhao et al.


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Short summary
We develop a modeling framework using the Weather Research and Forecasting (WRF) model at a high spatial resolution (up to 400 m) to simulate the atmospheric transport of GHGs and interpret the column observations. The output is validated against local weather stations and column measurements in August 2018. Our study concludes with a refined application of the differential column method aided by air-mass transport tracing with STILT, also applied for an exploratory measurement interpretation.