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

Development of a small unmanned aircraft system to derive CO2 emissions of anthropogenic point sources

Maximilian Reuter, Heinrich Bovensmann, Michael Buchwitz, Jakob Borchard, Sven Krautwurst, Konstantin Gerilowski, and John P. Burrows
Maximilian Reuter et al.
  • University of Bremen, Institute of Environmental Physics, Bremen, Germany (

A reduction of the anthropogenic emissions of CO2 (carbon dioxide) is necessary to stop or slow down man-made climate change. To verify mitigation strategies, a global monitoring system such as the envisaged European Copernicus anthropogenic CO2 monitoring mission (CO2M) is required. Those satellite data are going to be complemented and validated with airborne measurements. UAV (unmanned aerial vehicle) based measurements can provide a cost-effective way to contribute to these activities. Here we present the development of a sUAS (small unmanned aircraft system) to quantify the CO2 emissions of a nearby point source from its downwind mass flux without the need for any ancillary data. Specifically, CO2 is measured by an in situ NDIR (non-dispersive infrared) detector and the wind speed and direction is measured with a 2D ultrasonic acoustic resonance anemometer. In order to minimize the effect of rotor downwash, we calibrate the anemometer by analyzing wind measurements taken while following a suitable flight pattern and assuming stationary wind conditions. We quantify the quality of the CO2 and wind measurements with an in-flight validation at the ICOS (Integrated Carbon Observation System) atmospheric station Steinkimmen (STE) near Bremen, Germany. By means of two flights downwind of the ExxonMobil natural gas processing facility in Großenkneten about 40km east of Bremen, Germany, we demonstrate how the measurements of elevated CO2 concentrations can be used to infer mass fluxes of atmospheric CO2 related to the emissions of the facility.

How to cite: Reuter, M., Bovensmann, H., Buchwitz, M., Borchard, J., Krautwurst, S., Gerilowski, K., and Burrows, J. P.: Development of a small unmanned aircraft system to derive CO2 emissions of anthropogenic point sources, EGU General Assembly 2021, online, 19–30 Apr 2021, EGU21-8465,, 2021.

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