Toward accurate, policy-relevant fossil fuel CO2emission landscapes

Kevin Robert Gurney, Yang Song, Jianming Liang, Geoffrey Roest

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

16 Scopus citations


The bottom-up (BU) approach has been used to develop spatiotemporally resolved, sectorally disaggregated fossil fuel CO2 (FFCO2) emission data products. These efforts are critical constraints to atmospheric assessment of anthropogenic fluxes in addition to offering the climate change policymaking community usable information to guide mitigation. In the United States, there are two high-resolution FFCO2 emission data products, Vulcan and the Anthropogenic Carbon Emissions System (ACES). As a step toward developing improved, accurate, and detailed FFCO2 emission landscapes, we perform a comparison of the two data products. We find that while agreeing on total FFCO2 emissions at the aggregate scale (relative difference = 1.7%), larger differences occur at smaller spatial scales and in individual sectors. Differences in the smaller-emitting sectors are likely errors in ACES input data or emission factors. ACES advances the approach for estimating emissions in the gas and oil sector, while Vulcan shows better geocoordinate correction in the electricity production sector. Differences in the subcounty residential and commercial building sectors are driven by different spatial proxies and suggest a task for future investigation. The gridcell absolute median relative difference, a measure of the average gridcell-scale relative difference, indicates a 53.5% difference. The recommendation for improved BU granular FFCO2 emission estimation includes review, assessment, and archive of point source geolocations, CO emission input data, CO and CO2 emission factors, and uncertainty approaches including those due to spatial errors. Finally, intensives where local utility data are publicly available could test the spatial proxies used in estimating residential and commercial building emissions. These steps toward best practices will lead to more accurate, granular emissions, enabling optimal emission mitigation policy choices.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)9896-9907
Number of pages12
JournalEnvironmental Science and Technology
Issue number16
StatePublished - Aug 18 2020
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Chemistry
  • Environmental Chemistry


Dive into the research topics of 'Toward accurate, policy-relevant fossil fuel CO2emission landscapes'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this