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Spatial attribution of aircraft mass balance experiment CO2 estimations for policy relevant boundaries: New York City



Jay M. Tomlin, Israel Lopez Coto, Kristian D. Hajny, Joseph R. Pitt, Robert Kaeser, Brian H. Stirm, Thilina Jayarathne, Cody R. Floerchinger, Róisín Commane, Paul B. Shepson


To effectively address the unprecedented acceleration of climate change, cities across the U.S. are leading efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Coherent, aggressive, and lasting mitigation policies in controlling carbon emissions are beginning to be adopted to help strengthen climate resilience across different sectors. However, evaluating the effectiveness of current climate legislation requires careful monitoring of emissions through measurable, reportable, and verifiable means to inform policy decisions. As a part of this effort, we developed a new method to spatially allocate aircraft-based mass balance CO2 emissions. In this work, we conducted seven aircraft flights, performed downwind of New York City (NYC) to quantify CO2 emissions during the non-growing seasons of 2018–2020. We used an ensemble of emission inventories and transport models to calculate the fraction of enhancements (Φ) produced by sources within the policy relevant boundaries of the five NYC boroughs and then applied that to the bulk emissions calculated using the mass balance approach. We derived a campaign-averaged source apportioned mass balance CO2 emission rate of (56±24) kmol/s, for NYC. We evaluated the performance of this approach against other works including inventory scaling and inverse modeling, yielding a difference of 5.1% with respect to the average emission rate reported by the two complementary approaches. Utilizing the ensemble of emissions inventories and transport models, we also evaluated the overall sources of variability induced by the prior (1.7%), the atmospheric transport model (4.2%), and the daily variability (42.0%). This approach provides a solution to interpreting aircraft-based mass balance results in complex emission environments.
Elementa: Science of the Anthropocene


urban emissions, carbon dioxide, mass balance experiment, source attribution, airborne greenhouse gas measurements, New York City


Tomlin, J. , Lopez Coto, I. , Hajny, K. , Pitt, J. , Kaeser, R. , Stirm, B. , Jayarathne, T. , Floerchinger, C. , Commane, R. and Shepson, P. (2023), Spatial attribution of aircraft mass balance experiment CO2 estimations for policy relevant boundaries: New York City, Elementa: Science of the Anthropocene, [online], (Accessed July 24, 2024)


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Created November 17, 2023, Updated November 20, 2023