Carbon dioxide emissions in Northern China based on atmospheric observations from 2005 to 2009

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Authors Archana Dayalu, J. William Munger, +6 authors Rachel Y.-W. Chang
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Paper Abstract Abstract. China has pledged reduction of carbon dioxide emissions per unit GDP by 60–65 % relative to 2005 levels, and to peak carbon emissions overall by 2030. However, disagreement among available inventories makes it difficult for China to track progress toward these goals and evaluate the efficacy of control measures. In this study, we demonstrate an approach based on a long time series of surface CO2 observations to evaluate regional CO2 emissions rates in northern China estimated by three anthropogenic CO2 inventories – two of which are subsets from global inventories, and one of which is China-specific. Comparison of CO2 observations to CO2 predicted from accounting for global background concentration and atmospheric mixing of emissions suggests potential biases in the inventories. The period analyzed focuses on the key commitment period for the Paris accords (2005) and the Beijing Olympics (2008). Model-observation mismatch in concentration units is translated to mass units and is displayed against the original inventories in the measurement influence region, largely corresponding to northern China. Owing to limitations from having a single site, addressing the significant uncertainty stemming from transport error and error in spatial allocation of the emissions remains a challenge. Our analysis uses observations to support and justify increased use and development of China-specific inventories in tracking China's progress as a whole towards reducing emissions. Here we are restricted to a single measurement site; effectively evaluating and constraining inventories at relevant spatial scales requires multiple stations of high-temporal resolution observations. At this stage and with observational data limitations, we emphasize that this work is intended to be a comparison of a subset of anthropogenic CO2 emissions rates from inventories that were readily available at the time this research began. For this study's analysis time period, there was not enough spatially distinct observational data to conduct an optimization of the inventories. Rather, our analysis provides an important quantification of model-observation mismatch. In the northern China evaluation region, emission rates from the China-specific inventory produce the lowest model-observation mismatch at all timescales from daily to annual. Additionally, we note that averaged over the study time period, the unscaled China-specific inventory has substantially larger annual emissions for China as a whole (20 % higher) and the northern China evaluation region (30 %) than the unscaled global inventories. Our results lend support the rates and geographic distribution in the China-specific inventory. However, exploring this discrepancy for China as a whole requires a denser observational network in future efforts to measure and verify CO2 emissions for China both regionally and nationally. This study provides a baseline analysis for a small but import region within China, as well a guide for determining optimal locations for future ground-based measurement sites.
Date of publication 2018
Code Programming Language R

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