Space-borne detection of small scale CO2 emission structures with OCO-2
Abstract:Localized carbon dioxide (CO2) emission structures covering spatial domains of less than 50km diameter include cities, transportation infrastructure, fossil fuel production, upgrading and consumption sites. Anthropogenic sources upset the natural balance between carbon sources and sinks. Mitigation of resulting climate change impacts requires management of emissions, and emissions management requires monitoring, reporting and verification. Space-borne measurements provide a unique opportunity to detect, quantify, and analyze small scale and point source emissions on a global scale.
In 2014, NASA launched its first satellite dedicated to atmospheric CO2 observation, the Orbiting Carbon Observatory (OCO-2). Its observation strategy differs from sparse point-wise measurements from the Japanese Greenhouse gas Observation SATellite (GOSAT) instrument. At the expense of GOSAT’s fast time series capability (3-day repeat cycle, vs. 16 for OCO-2), its 8-footprint continuous swath of 2 to 10 km in width can slice through emission plumes and possibly provide momentary cross sections. While GOSAT measured approximately circular ~10.5 km diameter single-shot footprints, OCO-2 can provide hundreds more soundings per area at single kilometer scale footprint resolution.
First OCO-2 results demonstrate that we can detect localized source signals in the form of urban XCO2 enhancements of ~2 ppmv against suburban and rural backgrounds. OCO-2’s multi-sounding swath observing geometry reveals intra-urban emission spatial structures previously unobserved from space. The transition from single-shot GOSAT soundings detecting urban/rural differences (Kort et al., 2012) to hundreds of soundings per OCO-2 swath opens up the path to future capabilities enabling urban greenhouse gas tomography.
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