09 May 2023
 | 09 May 2023
Status: this preprint is open for discussion and under review for Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics (ACP).

Sources and Long-term Variability of Carbon Monoxide at Mount Kenya and in Nairobi

Leonard Kirago, Örjan Gustafsson, Samuel M. Gaita, Sophie L. Haslett, Michael J. Gatari, Marie E. Popa, Thomas Röckmann, Christoph Zellweger, Martin Steinbacher, Jörg Klausen, Christian Félix, David Njiru, and August Andersson

Abstract. arbon monoxide (CO) concentrations in the troposphere are decreasing globally, with Africa as an exception. Yet, the region is understudied, with a deficit of ground-based observations and highly uncertain CO emission inventories. This paper reports multi-year observational CO data from the Mt. Kenya Global Atmosphere Watch (GAW) station, as well as summertime CO isotope observations from both Mt. Kenya and Nairobi, Kenya. The CO variability at Mt. Kenya is characterized by slightly increased concentrations during dry periods and a strong influence of short-term pollution events While multi-year data gaps complicate decadal-scale trend analysis, no overall long-term shift can be resolved. High pollution events are consistent with isotopic signal from downwind savanna fires. The isotope fingerprint of CO in Nairobi indicate an overwhelming dominance (near 100 %) of primary emissions from fossil fuel combustion – with implications for air pollution policy. In contrast, the isotope signature of CO intercepted at the large footprint Mt. Kenya region suggests at least 70 % primary sourced, with a predominance likely from, savanna fires in Africa. Taken together, this study provides quantitative constraints of primary vs secondary CO in the eastern Africa region and in urban Nairobi, with implications for satellite-based emission inventories as well as for chemical-transport and climate- modelling.

Leonard Kirago et al.

Status: open (until 05 Jul 2023)

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Leonard Kirago et al.


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Short summary
This study provides ground-observational evidence that supports earlier suggestions that savanna fires are the main emitters and modulators of carbon monoxide gas in Africa. Using isotope-based technique, the study has shown that about two thirds of this gas emitted from savanna fires, while for urban areas in this case Nairobi city, primary sources approach 100 %. The latter has implications for air quality policy, suggesting primary emissions such as traffic should be targeted.