Characterization of Regional-Scale CO2 Transport Uncertainties in an Ensemble with Flow-Dependent Transport Errors

Hans W. Chen, Fuqing Zhang, Thomas Lauvaux, Kenneth J. Davis, Sha Feng, Martha P. Butler, Richard B. Alley

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

18 Scopus citations


Inference of CO2 surface fluxes using atmospheric CO2 observations in atmospheric inversions depends critically on accurate representation of atmospheric transport. Here we characterize regional-scale CO2 transport uncertainties due to uncertainties in meteorological fields using a mesoscale atmospheric model and an ensemble of simulations with flow-dependent transport errors. During a 1-month summer period over North America, transport uncertainties yield an ensemble spread in instantaneous CO2 at 100 m above ground level comparable to the CO2 uncertainties resulting from 48% relative uncertainty in 3-hourly natural CO2 fluxes. Temporal averaging reduces transport uncertainties but increases the influence of CO2 uncertainties from the lateral boundaries. The influence of CO2 background uncertainties is especially large for column-averaged CO2. These results suggest that transport errors and CO2 background errors limit regional atmospheric inversions at two distinct timescales and that the error characteristics of transport and background errors should guide the design of regional inversion systems.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)4049-4058
Number of pages10
JournalGeophysical Research Letters
Issue number7
StatePublished - Apr 16 2019

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Geophysics
  • General Earth and Planetary Sciences


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