Bayesian inverse estimation of urban CO2 emissions: Results from a synthetic data simulation over Salt Lake City, UT

Lewis Kunik, Derek V. Mallia, Kevin R. Gurney, Daniel L. Mendoza, Tomohiro Oda, John C. Lin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

24 Scopus citations


Top-down, data-driven models possess ample power to improve the accuracy of bottom-up carbon dioxide (CO2) emission inventories, and more work is needed to explore the merger of top-down and bottom-up estimates to better inform the metrics used to monitor global CO2 fluxes. Here we present a Bayesian inverse modeling framework over Salt Lake City, Utah, which utilizes available CO2 emission inventories to establish a synthetic data simulation aimed at exploring model uncertainties. Prescribing a high-resolution, urban-scale data product (Hestia) as the “true” emissions in the model, we combine prior emissions with an atmospheric transport model to derive modeled afternoon CO2 enhancements at six monitoring sites within the Salt Lake Valley during the month of September 2015. A global high-resolution gridded emissions data product (ODIAC) is used as the prior, and objective uncertainty structures are defined for both the a priori estimates and the transport model-data relationship which consider non-negligible spatial and temporal covariances. Optimized (posterior) emissions over the Salt Lake Valley agree closely with the assumed “true” emissions during afternoon times, while results including unconstrained times (e.g. night-time) lack such agreement. Both spatial and temporal correlations of prior errors were found to be necessary for obtaining a robust posterior estimate. Model sensitivity analyses are performed, which examine correlation length and time scales, model-data mismatch error, and measurement site network variability. Through these analyses, one measurement site is identified as being particularly prone to introducing bias into posterior emissions due to influences from a nearby point source. Increasing model-data mismatch error at this site is shown to reduce bias in the posterior without significantly compromising agreement with monthly averaged true emissions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number36
StatePublished - Sep 5 2019
Externally publishedYes


  • Bayesian inverse modeling
  • Error covariance parameters
  • OSSE
  • Salt Lake City
  • Synthetic data
  • Urban CO emissions

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oceanography
  • Environmental Engineering
  • Ecology
  • Geotechnical Engineering and Engineering Geology
  • Geology
  • Atmospheric Science


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