Air Pollution, Greenhouse Gases & Climate

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Signals of the Pandemic Seen in Greenhouse Gas Levels at the Harvard-Tsinghua Observatory near Beijing?

May 11, 2020

The below figures show cumulative probability distributions of carbon dioxide (CO2) and methane (CH4), the two leading greenhouse gases, as measured in March of 2019 (red) and 2020 (green) at the Harvard-China Project’s joint observatory with Tsinghua University at Miyun, north of Beijing. Depending on prevailing winds, the site sometimes measures clean background air from the northwest and sometimes polluted air from Beijing and surrounding areas. The lowest parts of the distributions represent background air, which have higher values in...

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Meng Gao, Jinhui Gao, Bin Zhu, Rajesh Kumar, Xiao Lu, Shaojie Song, Yuzhong Zhang, Beixi Jia, Peng Wang, Gufran Beig, Jianlin Hu, Qi Ying, Hongliang Zhang, Peter Sherman, and Michael B. McElroy. 2020. “Ozone pollution over China and India: seasonality and sources.” Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics, 20, 7. Publisher's VersionAbstract
A regional fully coupled meteorology–chemistry model, Weather Research and Forecasting model with Chemistry (WRF-Chem), was employed to study the seasonality of ozone (O3) pollution and its sources in both China and India. Observations and model results suggest that O3 in the North China Plain (NCP), Yangtze River Delta (YRD), Pearl River Delta (PRD), and India exhibit distinctive seasonal features, which are linked to the influence of summer monsoons. Through a factor separation approach, we examined the sensitivity of O3 to individual anthropogenic, biogenic, and biomass burning emissions. We found that summer O3 formation in China is more sensitive to industrial and biogenic sources than to other source sectors, while the transportation and biogenic sources are more important in all seasons for India. Tagged simulations suggest that local sources play an important role in the formation of the summer O3 peak in the NCP, but sources from Northwest China should not be neglected to control summer O3 in the NCP. For the YRD region, prevailing winds and cleaner air from the ocean in summer lead to reduced transport from polluted regions, and the major source region in addition to local sources is Southeast China. For the PRD region, the upwind region is replaced by contributions from polluted PRD as autumn approaches, leading to an autumn peak. The major upwind regions in autumn for the PRD are YRD (11 %) and Southeast China (10 %). For India, sources in North India are more important than sources in the south. These analyses emphasize the relative importance of source sectors and regions as they change with seasons, providing important implications for O3 control strategies.
Peter Sherman, Eli Tziperman, Clara Deser, and Michael B. McElroy. 2020. “Historical and future roles of internal atmospheric variability in modulating summertime Greenland Ice Sheet melt.” Geophysical Research Letters, 47, 6. Publisher's VersionAbstract
Understanding how internal atmospheric variability affects Greenland Ice Sheet (GrIS) summertime melting would improve understanding of future sea level rise. We analyze the Community Earth System Model Large Ensemble (CESM‐LE) over 1951‐2000 and 2051‐2100. We find that internal variability dominates the forced response on short timescales (~20 years) and that the area impacted by internal variability grows in the future, connecting internal variability and climate change. Unlike prior studies, we do not assume specific patterns of internal variability to affect GrIS melting, but derive them from Maximum Covariance Analysis. We find that the North Atlantic Oscillation (NAO) is the major source of internal atmospheric variability associated with GrIS melt conditions in CESM‐LE and reanalysis, with the positive phase (NAO+) linked to widespread cooling over the ice sheet. CESM‐LE and CMIP5 project an increase in the frequency of NAO+ events, suggesting a negative feedback to the GrIS under future climate change.
2020 Mar 11

CANCELLED: China’s Air Quality and Climate Change: The Known and the Unknown

12:15pm to 1:30pm

Location: 

CGIS South S020, Belfer Case Study Room, 1730 Cambridge Street, Cambridge

In accordance with new Harvard policies regarding gatherings over 25 people, the Wednesday Fairbank Center talk with Chris Nielsen has been CANCELLED, and will be rescheduled at a later date. Learn more about the campus' response to the coronavirus here: https://www.harvard.edu/coronavirus

A Fairbank...

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Xueli Zhao, Xiaofang Wu, Chenghe Guan, Rong Ma, Chris P. Nielsen, and Bo Zhang. 2020. “Linking agricultural GHG emissions to the global trade network.” Earth's Future, 3, 3. Publisher's VersionAbstract
As part of the climate policy to meet the 2‐degrees Celsius (2 °C) target, actions in all economic sectors, including agriculture, are required to mitigate global greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. While there has been an ever‐increasing focus on agricultural greenhouse gas (AGHG) emissions, limited attention has been paid to their economic drivers in the globalized world economy and related mitigation potentials. This paper makes a first attempt to trace AGHG emissions via global trade networks using a multi‐regional input‐output model and a complex network model. Over one third of global AGHG emissions in 2012 can be linked with products traded internationally, of which intermediate trade and final trade contribute 64.2% and 35.8%, respectively. Japan, the USA, Germany, the UK, and Hong Kong are the world's five largest net importers of embodied emissions, while Ethiopia, Australia, Pakistan, India and Argentina are the five largest net exporters. Some hunger‐afflicted developing countries in Asia and Africa are important embodied emission exporters, due to their large‐scale exports of agricultural products. Trade‐related virtual AGHG emission transfers shape a highly heterogenous network, due to the coexistence of numerous peripheral economies and a few highly‐connected hub economies. The network clustering structure is revealed by the regional integration of several trading communities, while hub economies are collectors and distributors in the global trade network, with important implications for emission mitigation. Achieving AGHG emission reduction calls for a combination of supply‐ and demand‐side policies covering the global trade network.
Archana Dayalu, J. William Munger, Yuxuan Wang, Steven C. Wofsy, Yu Zhao, Thomas Nehrkorn, Chris P. Nielsen, Michael B. McElroy, and Rachel Chang. 2020. “Evaluating China's anthropogenic CO2 emissions inventories: a northern China case study using continuous surface observations from 2005 to 2009.” Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics. Publisher's VersionAbstract
China has pledged reduction of carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions per unit of gross domestic product (GDP) by 60 %–65 % relative to 2005 levels, and to peak carbon emissions overall by 2030. However, the lack of observational data and disagreement among the many available inventories makes it difficult for China to track progress toward these goals and evaluate the efficacy of control measures. To demonstrate the value of atmospheric observations for constraining CO2 inventories we track the ability of CO2 concentrations predicted from three different CO2 inventories to match a unique multi-year continuous record of atmospheric CO2. Our analysis time window includes the key commitment period for the Paris Agreement (2005) and the Beijing Olympics (2008). One inventory is China-specific and two are spatial subsets of global inventories. The inventories differ in spatial resolution, basis in national or subnational statistics, and reliance on global or China-specific emission factors. We use a unique set of historical atmospheric observations from 2005 to 2009 to evaluate the three CO2 emissions inventories within China's heavily industrialized and populated northern region accounting for ∼33 %–41 % of national emissions. Each anthropogenic inventory is combined with estimates of biogenic CO2 within a high-resolution atmospheric transport framework to model the time series of CO2 observations. To convert the model–observation mismatch from mixing ratio to mass emission rates we distribute it over a region encompassing 90 % of the total surface influence in seasonal (annual) averaged back-trajectory footprints (L_0.90 region). The L_0.90 region roughly corresponds to northern China. Except for the peak growing season, where assessment of anthropogenic emissions is entangled with the strong vegetation signal, we find the China-specific inventory based on subnational data and domestic field studies agrees significantly better with observations than the global inventories at all timescales. Averaged over the study time period, the unscaled China-specific inventory reports substantially larger annual emissions for northern China (30 %) and China as a whole (20 %) than the two unscaled global inventories. Our results, exploiting a robust time series of continuous observations, lend support to the rates and geographic distribution in the China-specific inventory Though even long-term observations at a single site reveal differences among inventories, exploring inventory discrepancy over all of China requires a denser observational network in future efforts to measure and verify CO2 emissions for China both regionally and nationally. We find that carbon intensity in the northern China region has decreased by 47 % from 2005 to 2009, from approximately 4 kg of CO2 per USD (note that all references to USD in this paper refer to USD adjusted for purchasing power parity, PPP) in 2005 to about 2 kg of CO2 per USD in 2009 (Fig. 9c). However, the corresponding 18 % increase in absolute emissions over the same time period affirms a critical point that carbon intensity targets in emerging economies can be at odds with making real climate progress. Our results provide an important quantification of model–observation mismatch, supporting the increased use and development of China-specific inventories in tracking China's progress as a whole towards reducing emissions. We emphasize that this work presents a methodology for extending the analysis to other inventories and is intended to be a comparison of a subset of anthropogenic CO2 emissions rates from inventories that were readily available at the time this research began. For this study's analysis time period, there was not enough spatially distinct observational data to conduct an optimization of the inventories. The primary intent of the comparisons presented here is not to judge specific inventories, but to demonstrate that even a single site with a long record of high-time-resolution observations can identify major differences among inventories that manifest as biases in the model–data comparison. This study provides a baseline analysis for evaluating emissions from a small but important region within China, as well a guide for determining optimal locations for future ground-based measurement sites.
Jialin Liu, Fangyan Cheng, J. William Munger, Timothy G. Whitby, Peng Jiang, Siyue Chen, Weiwen Ji, and Xiuling Man. 2020. “Precipitation extremes influence patterns and partitioning of evapotranspiration and transpiration in a deciduous boreal larch forest.” Agricultural and Forest Meteorology, 287, 107936. Publisher's VersionAbstract
Ecosystems at the margins of their zone could be amongst the first to experience significant shifts in structure and function. At this site there have already been signs of permafrost degradation and more frequent temperature and precipitation anomalies. The canopy-dominant larch accounted for half the total T fluxes. The remaining 50% was distributed evenly among intermediate and suppressed trees. T is the dominant subcomponent in ET, where overall T/ET varies of 66%–84% depending on precipitation patterns. In dormant and early growing seasons, T still constitutes a majority of ET even though the canopy foliage is not fully developed because cold soil creates a negative soil to air vapor pressure gradient that impedes evaporation. However, in the peak growing season, excess precipitation reduces T while providing sufficient wetness for surface evaporation. ET from standard data product based on MODIS satellite reflectance underestimates tower ET by 17%–29%. Solar-induced chlorophyll fluorescence measured by satellite is well correlated with tower ET (r2 = 0.69–0.73) and could provide a better basis for regional ET extrapolations. Sites along boreal ecotones are critical to observe for signs of shifts in their structure, function, and response to climate anomalies.
2020 Feb 14

Atmospheric Aerosol Chemistry: Climate and Air Quality

12:00pm to 1:00pm

Location: 

Pierce 100F, 29 Oxford Street, Cambridge

An Atmospheric & Environmental Chemistry Seminar with Douglas R. Worsnop, Aerodyne Research, Inc., INAR (Physics), University of Helsinki
 
Abstract: Despite much effort in the past decades, uncertainties in both climate impacts and health effects of atmospheric aerosols remain large.  During the last twenty years, aerosol mass spectrometry (AMS) has shown that sub-micron aerosol chemical...

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