Top-down estimate of methane emissions in California using a mesoscale inverse modeling technique: The South Coast Air Basin

Cui, Yu Yan ; Brioude, Jérôme ; McKeen, Stuart A. ; Angevine, Wayne M. ; Kim, Si-Wan ; Frost, Gregory J. ; Ahmadov, Ravan ; Peischl, Jeff ; Bousserez, Nicolas ; Liu, Zhen ; Ryerson, Thomas B. ; Wofsy, Steve C. ; Santoni, Gregory W. ; Kort, Eric A. ; Fischer, Marc L. ; Trainer, Michael

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<p align=justify>Methane (CH4) is the primary component of natural gas and has a larger global warming potential than CO2. Recent top-down studies based on observations showed CH4 emissions in California's South Coast Air Basin (SoCAB) were greater than those expected from population-apportioned bottom-up state inventories. In this study, we quantify CH4 emissions with an advanced mesoscale inverse modeling system at a resolution of 8 km × 8 km, using aircraft measurements in the SoCAB during the 2010 Nexus of Air Quality and Climate Change campaign to constrain the inversion. To simulate atmospheric transport, we use the FLEXible PARTicle-Weather Research and Forecasting (FLEXPART-WRF) Lagrangian particle dispersion model driven by three configurations of the Weather Research and Forecasting (WRF) mesoscale model. We determine surface fluxes of CH4 using a Bayesian least squares method in a four-dimensional inversion. Simulated CH4 concentrations with the posterior emission inventory achieve much better correlations with the measurements (R2 = 0.7) than using the prior inventory (U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's National Emission Inventory 2005, R2 = 0.5). The emission estimates for CH4 in the posterior, 46.3 ± 9.2 Mg CH4/h, are consistent with published observation-based estimates. Changes in the spatial distribution of CH4 emissions in the SoCAB between the prior and posterior inventories are discussed. Missing or underestimated emissions from dairies, the oil/gas system, and landfills in the SoCAB seem to explain the differences between the prior and posterior inventories. We estimate that dairies contributed 5.9 ± 1.7 Mg CH4/h and the two sectors of oil and gas industries (production and downstream) and landfills together contributed 39.6 ± 8.1 Mg CH4/h in the SoCAB.</p>
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