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Verhulst, KR, Karion A, Kim J, Salameh PK, Keeling RF, Newman S, Miller J, Sloop C, Pongetti T, Rao P, Wong C, Hopkins FM, Yadav V, Weiss RF, Duren RM, Miller CE.  2017.  Carbon dioxide and methane measurements from the Los Angeles Megacity Carbon Project - Part 1: calibration, urban enhancements, and uncertainty estimates. Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics. 17:8313-8341.   10.5194/acp-17-8313-2017   AbstractWebsite

We report continuous surface observations of carbon dioxide (CO2) and methane (CH4) from the Los Angeles (LA) Megacity Carbon Project during 2015. We devised a calibration strategy, methods for selection of background air masses, calculation of urban enhancements, and a detailed algorithm for estimating uncertainties in urban-scale CO2 and CH4 measurements. These methods are essential for understanding carbon fluxes from the LA megacity and other complex urban environments globally. We estimate background mole fractions entering LA using observations from four "extra-urban" sites including two "marine" sites located south of LA in La Jolla (LJO) and offshore on San Clemente Island (SCI), one "continental" site located in Victorville (VIC), in the high desert northeast of LA, and one "continental/mid-troposphere" site located on Mount Wilson (MWO) in the San Gabriel Mountains. We find that a local marine background can be established to within similar to 1 ppm CO2 and similar to 10 ppb CH4 using these local measurement sites. Overall, atmospheric carbon dioxide and methane levels are highly variable across Los Angeles. "Urban" and "suburban" sites show moderate to large CO2 and CH4 enhancements relative to a marine background estimate. The USC (University of Southern California) site near downtown LA exhibits median hourly enhancements of similar to 20 ppm CO2 and similar to 150 ppb CH4 during 2015 as well as similar to 15 ppm CO2 and similar to 80 ppb CH4 during mid-afternoon hours (12:00-16:00 LT, local time), which is the typical period of focus for flux inversions. The estimated measurement uncertainty is typically better than 0.1 ppm CO2 and 1 ppb CH4 based on the repeated standard gas measurements from the LA sites during the last 2 years, similar to Andrews et al. (2014). The largest component of the measurement uncertainty is due to the single-point calibration method; however, the uncertainty in the background mole fraction is much larger than the measurement uncertainty. The background uncertainty for the marine background estimate is similar to 10 and similar to 15% of the median mid-afternoon enhancement near downtown LA for CO2 and CH4, respectively. Overall, analytical and background uncertainties are small relative to the local CO2 and CH4 enhancements; however, our results suggest that reducing the uncertainty to less than 5% of the median mid-afternoon enhancement will require detailed assessment of the impact of meteorology on background conditions.

Newman, S, Xu XM, Gurney KR, Hsu YK, Li KF, Jiang X, Keeling R, Feng S, O'Keefe D, Patarasuk R, Wong KW, Rao P, Fischer ML, Yung YL.  2016.  Toward consistency between trends in bottom-up CO2 emissions and top-down atmospheric measurements in the Los Angeles megacity. Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics. 16:3843-3863. AbstractWebsite

Large urban emissions of greenhouse gases result in large atmospheric enhancements relative to background that are easily measured. Using CO2 mole fractions and delta C-14 and delta C-13 values of CO2 in the Los Angeles megacity observed in inland Pasadena (2006-2013) and coastal Palos Verdes peninsula (autumn 2009-2013), we have determined time series for CO2 contributions from fossil fuel combustion (C-ff) for both sites and broken those down into contributions from petroleum and/or gasoline and natural gas burning for Pasadena. We find a 10 % reduction in Pasadena C-ff during the Great Recession of 2008-2010, which is consistent with the bottom-up inventory determined by the California Air Resources Board. The isotopic variations and total atmospheric CO2 from our observations are used to infer seasonality of natural gas and petroleum combustion. The trend of CO2 contributions to the atmosphere from natural gas combustion is out of phase with the seasonal cycle of total natural gas combustion seasonal patterns in bottom-up inventories but is consistent with the seasonality of natural gas usage by the area's electricity generating power plants. For petroleum, the inferred seasonality of CO2 contributions from burning petroleum is delayed by several months relative to usage indicated by statewide gasoline taxes. Using the high-resolution Hestia-LA data product to compare C-ff from parts of the basin sampled by winds at different times of year, we find that variations in observed fossil fuel CO2 reflect seasonal variations in wind direction. The seasonality of the local CO2 excess from fossil fuel combustion along the coast, on Palos Verdes peninsula, is higher in autumn and winter than spring and summer, almost completely out of phase with that from Pasadena, also because of the annual variations of winds in the region. Variations in fossil fuel CO2 signals are consistent with sampling the bottom-up Hestia-LA fossil CO2 emissions product for sub-city source regions in the LA megacity domain when wind directions are considered.

Nevison, CD, Manizza M, Keeling RF, Stephens BB, Bent JD, Dunne J, Ilyina T, Long M, Resplandy L, Tjiputra J, Yukimoto S.  2016.  Evaluating CMIP5 ocean biogeochemistry and Southern Ocean carbon uptake using atmospheric potential oxygen: Present-day performance and future projection. Geophysical Research Letters. 43:2077-2085.   10.1002/2015gl067584   AbstractWebsite

Observed seasonal cycles in atmospheric potential oxygen (APO similar to O-2+1.1 CO2) were used to evaluate eight ocean biogeochemistry models from the Coupled Model Intercomparison Project (CMIP5). Model APO seasonal cycles were computed from the CMIP5 air-sea O-2 and CO2 fluxes and compared to observations at three Southern Hemisphere monitoring sites. Four of the models captured either the observed APO seasonal amplitude or phasing relatively well, while the other four did not. Many models had an unrealistic seasonal phasing or amplitude of the CO2 flux, which in turn influenced APO. By 2100 under RCP8.5, the models projected little change in the O-2 component of APO but large changes in the seasonality of the CO2 component associated with ocean acidification. The models with poorer performance on present-day APO tended to project larger net carbon uptake in the Southern Ocean, both today and in 2100.

Lucas, DD, Yver Kwok C, Cameron-Smith P, Graven H, Bergmann D, Guilderson TP, Weiss R, Keeling R.  2015.  Designing optimal greenhouse gas observing networks that consider performance and cost. Geosci. Instrum. Method. Data Syst.. 4:121-137.: Copernicus Publications   10.5194/gi-4-121-2015   AbstractWebsite
Yver, CE, Graven HD, Lucas DD, Cameron-Smith PJ, Keeling RF, Weiss RF.  2013.  Evaluating transport in the WRF model along the California coast. Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics. 13:1837-1852.   10.5194/acp-13-1837-2013   AbstractWebsite

This paper presents a step in the development of a top-down method to complement the bottom-up inventories of halocarbon emissions in California using high frequency observations, forward simulations and inverse methods. The Scripps Institution of Oceanography high-frequency atmospheric halocarbons measurement sites are located along the California coast and therefore the evaluation of transport in the chosen Weather Research Forecast (WRF) model at these sites is crucial for inverse modeling. The performance of the transport model has been investigated by comparing the wind direction and speed and temperature at four locations using aircraft weather reports as well at all METAR weather stations in our domain for hourly variations. Different planetary boundary layer (PBL) schemes, horizontal resolutions (achieved through nesting) and two meteorological datasets have been tested. Finally, simulated concentration of an inert tracer has been briefly investigated. All the PBL schemes present similar results that generally agree with observations, except in summer when the model sea breeze is too strong. At the coarse 12 km resolution, using ERA-interim (ECMWF Re-Analysis) as initial and boundary conditions leads to improvements compared to using the North American Model (NAM) dataset. Adding higher resolution nests also improves the match with the observations. However, no further improvement is observed from increasing the nest resolution from 4 km to 0.8 km. Once optimized, the model is able to reproduce tracer measurements during typical winter California large-scale events (Santa Ana). Furthermore, with the WRF/CHEM chemistry module and the European Database for Global Atmospheric Research (EDGAR) version 4.1 emissions for HFC-134a, we find that using a simple emission scaling factor is not sufficient to infer emissions, which highlights the need for more complex inversions.

Welp, LR, Keeling RF, Meijer HAJ, Bollenbacher AF, Piper SC, Yoshimura K, Francey RJ, Allison CE, Wahlen M.  2011.  Interannual variability in the oxygen isotopes of atmospheric CO2 driven by El Nino. Nature. 477:579-582.   10.1038/nature10421   AbstractWebsite

The stable isotope ratios of atmospheric CO2 (O-18/O-16 and C-13/C-12) have been monitored since 1977 to improve our understanding of the global carbon cycle, because biosphere-atmosphere exchange fluxes affect the different atomic masses in a measurable way(1). Interpreting the O-18/O-16 variability has proved difficult, however, because oxygen isotopes in CO2 are influenced by both the carbon cycle and the water cycle(2). Previous attention focused on the decreasing O-18/O-16 ratio in the 1990s, observed by the global Cooperative Air Sampling Network of the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Earth System Research Laboratory. This decrease was attributed variously to a number of processes including an increase in Northern Hemisphere soil respiration(3); a global increase in C-4 crops at the expense of C-3 forests(4); and environmental conditions, such as atmospheric turbulence(5) and solar radiation(6), that affect CO2 exchange between leaves and the atmosphere. Here we present 30 years' worth of data on O-18/O-16 in CO2 from the Scripps Institution of Oceanography global flask network and show that the interannual variability is strongly related to the El Nino/Southern Oscillation. We suggest that the redistribution of moisture and rainfall in the tropics during an El Nino increases the O-18/O-16 ratio of precipitation and plant water, and that this signal is then passed on to atmospheric CO2 by biosphere-atmosphere gas exchange. We show how the decay time of the El Nino anomaly in this data set can be useful in constraining global gross primary production. Our analysis shows a rapid recovery from El Nino events, implying a shorter cycling time of CO2 with respect to the terrestrial biosphere and oceans than previously estimated. Our analysis suggests that current estimates of global gross primary production, of 120 petagrams of carbon per year(7), may be too low, and that a best guess of 150-175 petagrams of carbon per year better reflects the observed rapid cycling of CO2. Although still tentative, such a revision would present a new benchmark by which to evaluate global biospheric carbon cycling models.