EGU General Assembly 2021
© Author(s) 2022. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Urban-focused satellite CO2 observations from the Orbiting Carbon Observatory-3: a first look at the Los Angeles Megacity 

Matthäus Kiel1, Annmarie Eldering1, Dustin D. Roten2, Ruixue Lei9, Sha Feng3, John C. Lin2, Thomas Lauvaux4, Coleen M. Roehl5, Tomohiro Oda6,7, Laura T. Iraci8, and Jean-Francois Blavier1
Matthäus Kiel et al.
  • 1NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, CA, USA
  • 2Department of Atmospheric Sciences, University of Utah, Salt Lake City, UT, USA
  • 3Atmospheric Sciences and Global Change Division, Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, Richland, WA, USA
  • 4Laboratoire des Sciences du Climat et de l’Environnement, CEA, CNRS, UVSQ/IPSL,Universit ́e Paris-Saclay, Orme des Merisiers, Gif-sur-Yvette, France
  • 5Division of Geological and Planetary Sciences, California Institute of Technology, Pasadena, CA, USA
  • 6Global Modeling and Assimilation Office, NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, MD, USA
  • 7Goddard Earth Sciences Technology and Research, Universities Space Research Association, Columbia, MD, USA
  • 8NASA Ames Research Center, Moffett Field, CA, USA
  • 9Department of Meteorology and Atmospheric Science, Pennsylvania State University, University Park, PA, USA

The OCO-3 instrument was launched on May 4, 2019 from Kennedy Space Center to the International Space Station. Since August 2019, the instrument has taken measurements of reflected sunlight in three near-infrared bands from which column averaged dry-air mole fractions of carbon dioxide (XCO2) are derived. The instrument was specifically designed to measure anthropogenic emissions and its snapshot area map (SAM) and target (TG) observational modes allow to scan large contiguous areas (up to 80×80 km2) on a single overpass over emission hotspots like cities, power plants, or volcanoes. These measurements result in fine-scale spatial maps of XCO2 unlike what can be done with any other current space-based instrument. Here, we present and analyze XCO2 distributions over the Los Angeles (LA) megacity derived from multiple OCO-3 TG and SAM mode observations using the vEarly data product. We find that urban XCO2 values are elevated by 2-6 ppm relative to a clean background. The dense, high resolution OCO-3 observations reveal fine-scale, intra-urban variations of XCO2 over the LA megacity that have not been observed from space before. We further analyze the intra-urban characteristics and compare the XCO2 enhancements observed by OCO-3 with simulated values from two models that can resolve XCO2 variations across the city: an Eulerian (WRF-Chem) and a Lagrangian approach (X-STILT). We show that the observed variations are mainly driven by the complex and highly variable meteorological condition in the LA Basin. Median XCO2 differences between model and observation are typically below 1.3 ppm over the entirety of the LA megacity with slightly larger differences for some sub regions. Further, we find that OCO-3’s multi-swath measurements capture about three times as much of the city emissions compared to single-swath overpasses. In the future, these observations will help to better constrain urban emissions at finer spatiotemporal scales.

How to cite: Kiel, M., Eldering, A., Roten, D. D., Lei, R., Feng, S., Lin, J. C., Lauvaux, T., Roehl, C. M., Oda, T., Iraci, L. T., and Blavier, J.-F.: Urban-focused satellite CO2 observations from the Orbiting Carbon Observatory-3: a first look at the Los Angeles Megacity , EGU General Assembly 2021, online, 19–30 Apr 2021, EGU21-3006,, 2021.

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