J20.5 The use of tracers of opportunity to assess chronic carbon dioxide releases from regional industrial activities

Monday, 24 January 2011: 5:00 PM
3A (Washington State Convention Center)
Matthew J. Parker, Savannah River National Laboratory, Aiken, SC; and S. Walter, R. L. Buckley, and A. Andrews

The national and international interest in greatly improving the understanding of the origin and fate of carbon in the atmosphere is intense. Emerging domestic legislation and international treaty negotiations for a tax or a cap-and-trade arrangement for carbon emissions not to mention the new mandate for the US Environmental Protection Agency to regulate CO2 require the technical knowledge and understanding of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. Recent studies in the literature have clearly identified the need to understand interactions and attribute carbon sources on a regional basis. Both anthropogenic and non-anthropogenic sources of carbon abound in the atmosphere, but discerning between types is not always easy or straightforward. Methods to discern between origins typically involve an analysis of a chemical or radiological proxy, but even then, the true origins are not well understood given the innumerable sources of CO2 worldwide.

In 2008, the Savannah River National Laboratory (SRNL) and the Global Monitoring Division of NOAA established the “South Carolina Tower” (SCT) as part of a national tall tower observation network operated by NOAA. In this system, air samples are drawn to ground level and analyzed for CO, CO2 and other atmospheric trace gas constituents. For a period of several months in 2010, available spare tubing lines were employed to assess the efficacy of using sulfur dioxide (SO2) as a proxy tracer for detecting CO2 from major regional industrial combustion sources. The results of this sampling campaign will be discussed including efforts to utilize regional modeling tools for source attribution.

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