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Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics An interactive open-access journal of the European Geosciences Union
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© Author(s) 2019. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.
© Author(s) 2019. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Research article 08 Jan 2019

Research article | 08 Jan 2019

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This discussion paper is a preprint. It is a manuscript under review for the journal Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics (ACP).

Simultaneous shipborne measurements of CO2, CH4 and CO and their application to improving greenhouse gas flux estimates in Australia

Beata Bukosa1, Nicholas M. Deutscher1, Jenny A. Fisher1,2, Dagmar Kubistin1,3, Clare Paton-Walsh1, and David W. T. Griffith1 Beata Bukosa et al.
  • 1Centre for Atmospheric Chemistry, School of Chemistry, University of Wollongong, NSW, Australia
  • 2School of Earth and Environmental Sciences, University of Wollongong, NSW, Australia
  • 3German Meteorological Service, Meteorological Observatory Hohenpeissenberg, Hohenpeissenberg, Germany

Abstract. Quantitative understanding of the sources and sinks of greenhouse gases is essential for predicting greenhouse gas-climate feedback processes and their impacts on climate variability and change. Australia plays a significant role in driving variability in global carbon cycling, but the budgets of carbon gases in Australia remain highly uncertain. Here, shipborne Fourier Transform Infrared Spectrometer measurements collected around Australia are used together with a global chemical transport model (GEOS-Chem) to identify and quantify the sources of three direct and indirect carbon greenhouse gases: carbon dioxide (CO2), methane (CH4) and carbon monoxide (CO). Using these measurements, we provide an updated distribution of these gases and their sources and sinks. We find that for all three gases, the east Australian coast is largely influenced by local anthropogenic sources, which can be transported as far as 400 km off the coast. The south and west coasts are characterised by a mixture of anthropogenic sources and biomass burning. Tropical northern regions are dominated by biomass burning emissions, with significant contribution from fossil fuel for CO2 and wetlands for CH4. Averaged across Australia, fossil fuels followed by biomass burning contribute the most to total CO2 and to both its background value and short-term enhancements. Wetlands provide the largest background CH4 source, followed by livestock, oil, gas and waste emissions, with short-term enhancements mainly driven by anthropogenic sources. For CO, secondary production from oxidation of CH4 and non-methane volatile organic compounds contributes most to the background and total CO burdens, while enhancements are driven by biomass burning and anthropogenic sources. Clean air characteristic of the tropospheric background was observed away from the coast in the Indian Ocean, Coral Sea, and Tasman Sea. From the measurements in the Indian Ocean, we found that the background values of all three gases increase towards the tropics with latitudinal gradients of 0.019 ± 0.003 ppm deg−1 for CO2, 0.34 ± 0.02 ppb deg−1 for CH4 and 0.82 ± 0.05 ppb deg−1 for CO. Comparing coincident and co-located enhancements in the three carbon gases highlighted several common sources from the Australian continent. We found evidence for 17 events with similar enhancement patterns indicative of co-emission and calculated enhancements ratios and modelled source contributions for each event. We found that anthropogenic co-enhancement events are common along the east coast, while co-enhancement events in the tropics primarily derive from biomass burning sources. Few co-enhancement events were observed along the south and west coasts. While the GEOS-Chem model generally reproduced the timing of co-enhancement events, it was less able to reproduce the magnitude of enhancements. We found model overestimates of CH4 from coal burning and underestimates of all three gases from biomass burning with overestimates for CO during some events. We identified missing sources from fossil fuel, biofuel, oil, gas, coal, livestock, biomass burning and the biosphere in the model, pointing to the need to further develop and evaluate greenhouse gas emission inventories for the Australian continent.

Beata Bukosa et al.
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Status: final response (author comments only)
AC: Author comment | RC: Referee comment | SC: Short comment | EC: Editor comment
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Beata Bukosa et al.
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Publications Copernicus
Short summary
The carbon greenhouse gases (CO2, CH4 and CO) were proven to have a large impact on the global carbon cycle and our climate. To understand the variability of the carbon cycle and predict future climate change scenarios, we need to study the processes that drive the changes of these gases in the atmosphere. We study the sources and sinks of CO2, CH4 and CO with a combination of measurements and chemical transport modelling to identify missing, underestimated or overestimated sources in Australia.
The carbon greenhouse gases (CO2, CH4 and CO) were proven to have a large impact on the global...