The suitability of atmospheric oxygen measurements to constrain Western European fossil-fuel CO2 emissions and their trends

Rödenbeck, Christian, Adcock, Karina E. ORCID:, Eritt, Markus, Gachkivsky, Maksym, Gerbig, Christoph, Hammer, Samuel, Jordan, Armin, Keeling, Ralph F., Levin, Ingeborg, Maier, Fabian, Manning, Andrew C. ORCID:, Moosen, Heiko, Munassar, Saqr, Pickers, Penelope A., Rothe, Michael, Tohjima, Yasunori and Zaehle, Sönke (2023) The suitability of atmospheric oxygen measurements to constrain Western European fossil-fuel CO2 emissions and their trends. Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics Discussions, 23 (24). 15767–15782. ISSN 1680-7375

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Atmospheric measurements of the O2/N2 ratio and the CO2 mole fraction (combined into the conceptual tracer "Atmospheric Potential Oxygen", APO) over continents have been proposed as a constraint on CO2 emissions from fossil-fuel burning. Here we assess the suitability of such APO data to constrain anthropogenic CO2 emissions in Western Europe, with particular focus on their decadal trends. We use an inversion of atmospheric transport to estimate spatially and temporally explicit scaling factors on a bottom-up fossil-fuel emissions inventory. Based on the small number of currently available observational records, our CO2 emissions estimates show relatively large apparent year-to-year variations, exceeding the expected uncertainty of the bottom-up inventory and precluding the calculation of statistically significant trends. We were not able to trace the apparent year-to-year variations back to particular properties of the APO data. Inversion of synthetic APO data, however, confirms that data information content and degrees of freedom are sufficient to successfully correct a counterfactual prior. Larger sets of measurement stations, such as the recently started APO observations from the Integrated Carbon Observation System (ICOS) European research infrastructure, improve the constraint and may ameliorate possible problems with local signals or with measurement or model errors at the stations. We further tested the impact of uncertainties in the O2:CO2 stoichiometries of fossil-fuel burning and land biospheric exchange and found they are not fundamental obstacles to estimating decadal trends in fossil-fuel CO2 emissions, though further work on fossil-fuel O2:CO2 stoichiometries seems necessary.

Item Type: Article
Additional Information: Funding information: We would like to thank all persons involved in the APO measurements. Matt Jones kindly added a O2 layer to the GridFED emissions inventory. Atmospheric O2 and CO2 measurements at WAO were funded by the U.K. Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) grants NE/F005733/1, NE/I013342/1, NE/I02934X/1, QUEST010005, NE/N016238/1, NE/S004521/1, and NE/R011532/1, by the EU FP6 Integrated Project CarboOcean (grant agreement no. 511176 GOCE), and have also been supported by the U.K. National Centre for Atmospheric Science (NCAS) from December 2013 onward. A. Manning, P. Pickers, and K. Adcock also received funding from the European Union’s Horizon Europe Research and Innovation programme under HORIZON-CL5-2022-D1-02 Grant Agreement No 101081430 - PARIS. The service charges for this open access publication have been covered by the Max Planck Society.
Faculty \ School: Faculty of Science > School of Environmental Sciences
University of East Anglia Research Groups/Centres > Theme - ClimateUEA
UEA Research Groups: Faculty of Science > Research Groups > Centre for Ocean and Atmospheric Sciences
University of East Anglia Schools > Faculty of Science > Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research
Faculty of Science > Research Centres > Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research
Depositing User: LivePure Connector
Date Deposited: 11 Sep 2023 10:31
Last Modified: 05 Jan 2024 01:51
DOI: 10.5194/egusphere-2023-767


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