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Abstract

Growing concern about anthropogenic influence on the climate system due to emissions of greenhouses gases into the atmosphere causes governments everywhere around the world to adopt fossil fuel use reduction policies. However, to test if various government-launched measures and incentives really are effective, the fossil fuel based CO2 emissions into the atmosphere should be independently verified. To date, independent verification schemes are still far from common and both national policy and commerical carbon trading relies instead on self-reported emissions, and emission reductions. Such reports are based on inventories: summation of the emissions of all (known!) sources. True independent verification, however, should be based on atmospheric observations and supporting atmospheric transport models such that the sum of reported emissions matches the highly accurately measured concentrations in the atmosphere. The atmosphere is our ultimate record of the real GHG emissions: it neither misreports nor misdetects any GHG emissions. So far, however, only prototypes of such verification schemes are reported in the literature, the most noteworthy example being the "Megacities Carbon" initiative (Duren and Miller, 2011). In our group in Groningen, the Netherlands, we have recently demonstrated the first atmospheric observation based verification of greenhouse gas emissions for the Netherlands (Meesters et al., 2012, van der Laan et al., 2010, 2009). The methodology we used was based on the continuous observations of greenhouse gas concentrations at our atmospheric monitoring tower Lutjewad, in the north of the Netherlands. Additionally, in the case for CO2, we used radiocarbon (14C) and carbon monoxide (CO) observations, which enabled us to discriminate fossil fuel based CO2 from natural sources (and sinks) of CO2. Key to the verification scheme, however, was the way in which we could lead back observed concentrations to fluxes from the land to the atmosphere. We used the tracer Rn for this. Rn is a radio-active, but inert gas that emanates from soils at a more or less constant rate. Using this rate, and monitoring the Rn concentration, enabled use to translate greenhouse gas concentrations back into surface fluxes. To achieve this, we also made use of an atmospheric transport model, with which we could both calibrate our results, and test them for robustness. Our efforts produced total emissions (in a 3-year average) for the Netherlands for CH4, N2O and fossil fuel derived CO2 with a combined uncertainty of about 25% Improving the accuracy of such an effort is certainly possible. New, accurate and low-maintenance measurement instruments facilitate the efficient implementation of monitoring stations. Better, higher resolution atmospheric modelling is available, too. Using such advanced tools would make the independent verification to a level of ±10% possible on a yearly basis. Qatar, and especially the Doha agglomeration, would form a perfect testbed for such an excercise. The city, with its strong emissions is relatively isolated, and biospheric sources and sinks, which are much larger than the anthropogenic sources almost everywhere else in the world, are very small in Qatar, thanks to the barren desert.

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/content/papers/10.5339/qfarf.2013.EEO-06
2013-11-20
2020-10-21
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http://instance.metastore.ingenta.com/content/papers/10.5339/qfarf.2013.EEO-06
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