Prototype of the Integrated U.S. Greenhouse Gas Measurement, Monitoring, and Information System (GHGMMIS)
NOAA’s Air Resources Laboratory (ARL) is developing an operational capability to measure and model U.S. emissions of greenhouse gases (GHG). NOAA, in collaboration with the National Institute for Standards and Technology (NIST) are developing and testing a prototype system to monitor and measure GHG emissions on local, regional, and national scales. Initially, this capability integrates existing, mature capabilities into an urban-scale operational GHG monitoring system covering the DC-Baltimore region.
The Greenhouse Gas Measurement, Monitoring, and Information System (GHGMMIS)
The primary goal of the urban-scale prototype GHG Measurement, Monitoring, and Information System is to reduce the latency in the provision of GHG emissions estimates. Current estimates are generally available on an annual basis. Creating such a product on a more frequent basis will enable better collaborations between regional and local city planners and federal agencies to monitor and verify their GHG emissions mitigation plans. The prototype system being developed is based on contemporaneous observations of GHG concentrations in the atmosphere, and as such, can provide an independent check on, and complement, traditional emissions estimating methods.
Monitoring Greenhouse Gas Sources
This GHG Measurement, Monitoring, and Information System constitutes a portion of the US government’s initiative to address greenhouse gas emissions. The initial version of the prototype system being developed will target CO2, as it is the most significant GHG contributing to climate change, and approximately 70% of anthropogenic CO2 emissions are generated in urban areas. The next phase of the system will add methane (CH4), as it is also a large contributor to climate change and has significant urban emissions. This program will foster a better understanding of GHG emissions, which is essential to designing and evaluating efforts to reduce emissions. This system aims to not only improve the accuracy of emissions estimates, but also to provide more frequent insights into the results of efforts to reduce emissions. As GHG emissions mitigation policies are adopted, stakeholders will be able to monitor the results of their efforts.
Put simply, the prototype CO2 system starts with atmospheric measurements of CO2 in the DC-Baltimore region and estimates what the emissions must have been to have created the observed CO2 concentrations. As such, it is classified as a top-down emissions-estimating system, as it starts from observable concentrations of CO2 in the air. The process of using downwind observations to estimate emissions is used in a number of different air pollution applications and is commonly called an inversion. A short description of the inversion methodology follows.