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https://doi.org/10.5194/egusphere-2024-83
https://doi.org/10.5194/egusphere-2024-83
25 Jan 2024
 | 25 Jan 2024

Multi-year observations of variable incomplete combustion in the New York megacity

Luke D. Schiferl, Cong Cao, Bronte Dalton, Andrew Hallward-Driemeier, Ricardo Toledo-Crow, and Róisín Commane

Abstract. Carbon monoxide (CO) is a regulated air pollutant that impacts tropospheric chemistry and is an important indicator of the incomplete combustion of carbon-based fuels. In this study, we used four years (2019–2022) of winter and spring (January–May) atmospheric CO observations to quantify and characterize city-scale CO enhancements (ΔCO) from the New York City metropolitan area (NYCMA). We observed large variability in ΔCO, roughly 60 % of which was explained by atmospheric transport from the surrounding surface areas to the measurement sites, with the remaining 40 % due to changes in emissions on sub-monthly timescales. We evaluated the CO emissions from the Emissions Database for Global Atmospheric Research (EDGAR), which has been used to scale greenhouse gas emissions, and found the emissions are much too low in magnitude. During the COVID-19 shutdown in spring 2020, we observed a flattening of the diurnal pattern of CO emissions, consistent with reductions in daytime transportation. Our results highlight the role of meteorology in driving the variability of air pollutants and show that the transportation sector is unlikely to account for the non-shutdown observed CO emissions magnitude and variability, an important distinction to determine the sources of combustion emissions in urban regions like the NYCMA.

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Luke D. Schiferl, Cong Cao, Bronte Dalton, Andrew Hallward-Driemeier, Ricardo Toledo-Crow, and Róisín Commane

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  • RC1: 'Comment on egusphere-2024-83', Anonymous Referee #1, 15 Mar 2024
  • RC2: 'Comment on egusphere-2024-83', Anonymous Referee #2, 29 Apr 2024
Luke D. Schiferl, Cong Cao, Bronte Dalton, Andrew Hallward-Driemeier, Ricardo Toledo-Crow, and Róisín Commane
Luke D. Schiferl, Cong Cao, Bronte Dalton, Andrew Hallward-Driemeier, Ricardo Toledo-Crow, and Róisín Commane

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Short summary
Carbon monoxide (CO) is an air pollutant and an important indicator of the incomplete combustion of fossil fuels in cities. Using four years of winter and spring observations in New York City, we found that both the magnitude and variability of CO from the metropolitan area are greater than expected. Transportation emissions cannot explain the missing and variable CO, which points to energy from buildings as a likely underappreciated source of urban air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions.