Quantification of urban atmospheric boundary layer greenhouse gas dry mole fraction enhancements in the dormant season: Results from the Indianapolis Flux Experiment (INFLUX)

Natasha L. Miles, Scott J. Richardson, Thomas Lauvaux, Kenneth J. Davis, Nikolay V. Balashov, Aijun Deng, Jocelyn C. Turnbull, Colm Sweeney, Kevin R. Gurney, Risa Patarasuk, Igor Razlivanov, Maria Obiminda L. Cambaliza, Paul B. Shepson

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23 Scopus citations


We assess the detectability of city emissions via a tower-based greenhouse gas (GHG) network, as part of the Indianapolis Flux (INFLUX) experiment. By examining afternoon-averaged results from a network of carbon dioxide (CO2), methane (CH4), and carbon monoxide (CO) mole fraction measurements in Indianapolis, Indiana for 2011-2013, we quantify spatial and temporal patterns in urban atmospheric GHG dry mole fractions. The platform for these measurements is twelve communications towers spread across the metropolitan region, ranging in height from 39 to 136 m above ground level, and instrumented with cavity ring-down spectrometers. Nine of the sites were deployed as of January 2013 and data from these sites are the focus of this paper. A background site, chosen such that it is on the predominantly upwind side of the city, is utilized to quantify enhancements caused by urban emissions. Afternoon averaged mole fractions are studied because this is the time of day during which the height of the boundary layer is most steady in time and the area that influences the tower measurements is likely to be largest. Additionally, atmospheric transport models have better performance in simulating the daytime convective boundary layer compared to the nighttime boundary layer. Averaged from January through April of 2013, the mean urban dormant-season enhancements range from 0.3 ppm CO2 at the site 24 km typically downwind of the edge of the city (Site 09) to 1.4 ppm at the site at the downwind edge of the city (Site 02) to 2.9 ppm at the downtown site (Site 03). When the wind is aligned such that the sites are downwind of the urban area, the enhancements are increased, to 1.6 ppm at Site 09, and 3.3 ppm at Site 02. Differences in sampling height affect the reported urban enhancement by up to 50%, but the overall spatial pattern remains similar. The time interval over which the afternoon data are averaged alters the calculated urban enhancement by an average of 0.4 ppm. The CO2 observations are compared to CO2 mole fractions simulated using a mesoscale atmospheric model and an emissions inventory for Indianapolis. The observed and modeled CO2 enhancements are highly correlated (r2 = 0.94), but the modeled enhancements prior to inversion average 53% of those measured at the towers. Following the inversion, the enhancements follow the observations closely, as expected. The CH4 urban enhancement ranges from 5 ppb at the site 10 km predominantly downwind of the city (Site 13) to 21 ppb at the site near the landfill (Site 10), and for CO ranges from 6 ppb at the site 24 km downwind of the edge of the city (Site 09) to 29 ppb at the downtown site (Site 03). Overall, these observations show that a dense network of urban GHG measurements yield a detectable urban signal, well-suited as input to an urban inversion system given appropriate attention to sampling time, sampling altitude and quantification of background conditions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number27
StatePublished - 2017

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Oceanography
  • Environmental Engineering
  • Ecology
  • Geotechnical Engineering and Engineering Geology
  • Geology
  • Atmospheric Science


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