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Biogeosciences An interactive open-access journal of the European Geosciences Union
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https://doi.org/10.5194/bg-2020-284
© Author(s) 2020. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.
https://doi.org/10.5194/bg-2020-284
© Author(s) 2020. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

  31 Jul 2020

31 Jul 2020

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This preprint is currently under review for the journal BG.

Exploring Constraints on a Wetland Methane Emission Ensemble (WetCHARTs) using GOSAT Satellite Observations

Robert J. Parker1,2, Chris Wilson3,4, A. Anthony Bloom5, Edward Comyn-Platt6,7, Garry Hayman7, Joe McNorton6, Hartmut Boesch1,2, and Martyn P. Chipperfield3,4 Robert J. Parker et al.
  • 1National Centre for Earth Observation, University of Leicester, UK
  • 2Earth Observation Science, School of Physics and Astronomy, University of Leicester, UK
  • 3National Centre for Earth Observation, University of Leeds, UK
  • 4School of Earth and Environment, University of Leeds, UK
  • 5Jet Propulsion Laboratory, California Institute of Technology, Pasadena, CA, USA
  • 6European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts, Reading, UK
  • 7Centre for Ecology and Hydrology, Wallingford, UK

Abstract. Wetland emissions contribute the largest uncertainties to the current global atmospheric CH4 budget and how these emissions will change under future climate scenarios is also still poorly understood. Bloom et al. (2017b) developed WetCHARTs, a simple, data-driven, ensemble-based model that produces estimates of CH4 wetland emissions constrained by observations of precipitation and temperature. This study performs the first detailed global and regional evaluation of the WetCHARTs CH4 emission model ensemble against 9 years of high-quality, validated atmospheric CH4 observations from the GOSAT satellite. A 3-D chemical transport model is used to estimate atmospheric CH4 mixing ratios based on the WetCHARTs emissions and other sources.

Across all years and all ensemble members, the observed global seasonal cycle amplitude is typically underestimated by WetCHARTs by −7.4 ppb, but the correlation coefficient of 0.83 shows that the seasonality is well-produced at a global scale. The Southern Hemisphere has less of a bias (−1.9 ppb) than the Northern Hemisphere (−9.3 ppb) and our findings show that it is typically the North Tropics where this bias is worst (−11.9 ppb).

We find that WetCHARTs generally performs well in reproducing the observed wetland CH4 seasonal cycle for the majority of wetland regions although, for some regions, regardless of the ensemble configuration, WetCHARTs does not well-reproduce the observed seasonal cycle. In order to investigate this, we performed detailed analysis of some of the more challenging exemplar regions (Parana River, Congo, Sudd and Yucatan). Our results show that certain ensemble members are more suited to specific regions, either due to deficiencies in the underlying data driving the model or complexities in representing the processes involved. In particular, incorrect definition of the wetland extent is found to be the most common reason for the discrepancy between the modelled and observed CH4 concentrations. The remaining driving data (i.e. heterotrophic respiration and temperature) are shown to also contribute to the mismatch to observations, with the details differing on a region-by-region basis but generally showing that some degree of temperature dependency is better than none.

We conclude that the data-driven approach used by WetCHARTs is well-suited to produce a benchmark ensemble dataset against which to evaluate more complex process-based land surface models that explicitly model the hydrological behaviour of these complex wetland regions.

Robert J. Parker et al.

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Robert J. Parker et al.

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Short summary
Wetlands contribute the largest uncertainty to the atmospheric methane budget. WetCHARTs is a simple, data-driven, model that estimates wetland emissions using observations of precipitation and temperature. We perform the first detailed evaluation of WetCHARTs against satellite data and find it performs well in reproducing the observed wetland methane seasonal cycle for the majority of wetland regions. In regions where it performs poor, we highlight incorrect wetland extent as a key reason.
Wetlands contribute the largest uncertainty to the atmospheric methane budget. WetCHARTs is a...
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