Evaluation of SF6, C2Cl4, and CO to approximate fossil fuel CO2 in the Northern Hemisphere using a chemistry transport model

Abstract : The distribution of the fossil fuel component in atmospheric CO2 cannot be measured directly at a cheap cost. Could anthropogenic tracers with source patterns similar to fossil fuel CO2 then be used for that purpose? Here we present and evaluate a methodology using surrogate tracers, CO, SF6, and C2Cl4, to deduce fossil fuel CO2. A three-dimensional atmospheric chemistry transport model is used to simulate the relationship between each tracer and fossil fuel CO2. In summertime the regression slopes between fossil fuel CO2 and surrogate tracers show large spatial variations for chemically active tracers ( CO and C2Cl4), although C2Cl4 presents less scatter than CO. At two tall tower sites in the United States ( WLEF, Wisconsin, and WITN, North Carolina), we found that in summertime the C2Cl4 ( CO) versus fossil CO2 slope is on average up to 15% ( 25%) higher than in winter. We show that for C2Cl4 this seasonal variation is due to OH oxidation. For CO the seasonal variation is due to both chemistry and mixing with nonanthropogenic CO sources. In wintertime the three surrogate tracers SF6, C2Cl4, and CO are about equally as good indicators of the presence of fossil CO2. However, our model strongly underestimates the variability of SF6 at both towers, probably because of unaccounted for emissions. Hence poor knowledge of emission distribution hampers the use of SF6 as a surrogate tracer. From a practical point of view we recommend the use of C2Cl4 as a proxy of fossil CO2. We also recommend the use of tracers to separate fossil CO2. Despite the fact that the uncertainty on the regression slope is on the order of 30%, the tracer approach is likely to have less bias than when letting one model with one inventory emission map calculate the fossil CO2 distribution.
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Contributor : Philippe Peylin <>
Submitted on : Monday, October 1, 2007 - 10:22:01 PM
Last modification on : Wednesday, May 15, 2019 - 3:49:08 AM


  • HAL Id : bioemco-00175973, version 1


Philippe Peylin, Leonard Rivier, Philippe Ciais, Didier Hauglustaine, Peter Bakwin, et al.. Evaluation of SF6, C2Cl4, and CO to approximate fossil fuel CO2 in the Northern Hemisphere using a chemistry transport model. Journal of Geophysical Research: Atmospheres, American Geophysical Union, 2006, pp.D16311. ⟨bioemco-00175973⟩



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