1Institute of Applied Physics, Russian Academy of Sciences, Nizhniy Novgorod, Russia
2Laboratoire des Sciences du Climat et l'Environnement (LSCE/IPSL), CNRS-CEA-UVSQ, Centre d'Etudes Orme des Merisiers, Gif sur Yvette, France
3Institute of Environmental Physics and Remote Sensing, IUP/IFE, University of Bremen, Bremen, Germany
4Laboratory for Earth Surface Processes, College of Urban and Environmental Sciences, Peking University, Beijing 100871, China
5Joint Research Center, Institute for Environment and Sustainability, Ispra (Va), Italy
6Laboratoire Inter-Universitaire de Systèmes Atmosphériques (LISA/CNRS), CNRS, UMR7583, Université Paris-Est and Université Paris 7, Créteil, France
7Max Planck Institute for Biogeochemistry, Jena, Germany
Abstract. Multi-annual satellite measurements of tropospheric NO2 columns are used for evaluation of CO2 emission changes in China in the period from 1996 to 2008. Indirect annual top-down estimates of CO2 emissions are derived from the satellite NO2 columns measurements by means of a simple inverse modeling procedure involving simulations performed with the CHIMERE mesoscale chemistry transport model and the CO2 to NOx emission ratios from the Emission Database for Global Atmospheric Research version 4.2 (EDGAR v4.2) global anthropogenic emission inventory. Exponential trends in the normalized time series of annual emission are evaluated separately for the periods from 1996 to 2001 and from 2001 to 2008. The results indicate that the both periods manifest strong positive trends in the CO2 emissions, and that the trend in the second period was significantly larger than the trend in the first period. Specifically, the trends in the first and second periods are estimated to be in the range from 3.7 to 8.0 and from 9.5 to 13.0 percent per year, respectively, taking into account both statistical and probable systematic uncertainties. Comparison of our top-down estimates of the CO2 emission changes with the corresponding bottom-up estimates provided by EDGAR v4.2 and Global Carbon Project (GCP) emission inventories reveals that while acceleration of the CO2 emission growth in the considered period is a common feature of the both kinds of estimates, nonlinearity in the CO2 emission changes may be strongly exaggerated in the emission inventories. Specifically, the atmospheric NO2 observations do not confirm the existence of a sharp bend in the emission inventory data time series in the period from 2000 to 2002. A significant quantitative difference is revealed between the bottom-up and top-down estimates of the CO2 emission trend in the period from 1996 to 2001 (specifically, the trend was not positive according to the emission inventories, but is strongly positive in our estimates). These results confirm the findings of earlier studies which indicated probable large uncertainties in the energy production and other activity data from international energy statistics used as the input information in the emission inventories for China. For the period from 2001 to 2008, the different kinds of estimates agree within the uncertainty range. In general, satellite measurements of tropospheric NO2 are shown to be a useful source of information on CO2 sources colocated with sources of nitrogen oxides; the corresponding potential of these measurements should be exploited further in future studies.