Anthropogenic carbon dioxide source areas observed from space: assessment of regional enhancements and trends Institute of Environmental Physics (IUP), University of Bremen FB1, Bremen, Germany
04 Mar 2013
Received: 13 November 2012 – Published in Atmos. Chem. Phys. Discuss.: 06 December 2012 Abstract. Urban areas, which are home to the majority of today's world population, are responsible for more than two-thirds of
the global energy-related carbon dioxide emissions. Given the ongoing demographic growth and rising energy consumption
in metropolitan regions particularly in the developing world, urban-based emissions are expected to further increase
in the future. As a consequence, monitoring and independent verification of reported anthropogenic emissions is
becoming more and more important.
Revised: 21 February 2013 – Accepted: 22 February 2013 – Published: 04 March 2013
It is demonstrated using SCIAMACHY nadir measurements that anthropogenic CO2 emissions can be detected from
space and that emission trends might be tracked using satellite observations. This is promising with regard to future
satellite missions with high spatial resolution and wide swath imaging capability aiming at constraining anthropogenic
emissions down to the point-source scale.
By subtracting retrieved background values from those retrieved over urban areas we find significant CO2
enhancements for several anthropogenic source regions, namely 1.3 ± 0.7 ppm for the Rhine-Ruhr
metropolitan region and the Benelux, 1.1 ± 0.5 ppm for the East Coast of the United States, and 2.4 ±
0.9 ppm for the Yangtze River Delta. The order of magnitude of the enhancements is in agreement with what is
expected for anthropogenic CO2 signals. The larger standard deviation of the retrieved Yangtze River Delta
enhancement is due to a distinct positive trend of 0.3 ± 0.2 ppm yr−1, which is quantitatively
consistent with anthropogenic emissions from the Emission Database for Global Atmospheric Research (EDGAR) in terms of
percentual increase per year.
Potential contributions to the retrieved CO2 enhancement by several error sources, e.g. aerosols, albedo, and
residual biospheric signals due to heterogeneous seasonal sampling, are discussed and can be ruled out to a large
Citation: Schneising, O., Heymann, J., Buchwitz, M., Reuter, M., Bovensmann, H., and Burrows, J. P.: Anthropogenic carbon dioxide source areas observed from space: assessment of regional enhancements and trends, Atmos. Chem. Phys., 13, 2445-2454, doi:10.5194/acp-13-2445-2013, 2013.