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Pixel Size and Revisit Rate Requirements for Monitoring Power Plant CO2 Emissions from Space

1,* and 2
Department of Applied Math, University of Waterloo, Waterloo, ON N2L 3G1, Canada
Climate Research Division, Environment and Climate Change Canada, Toronto, ON M3H 5T4, Canada
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Remote Sens. 2019, 11(13), 1608;
Received: 31 May 2019 / Revised: 28 June 2019 / Accepted: 5 July 2019 / Published: 6 July 2019
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Remote Sensing of Carbon Dioxide and Methane in Earth’s Atmosphere)
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The observational requirements for space-based quantification of anthropogenic CO 2 emissions are of interest to space agencies and related organizations that may contribute to a possible satellite constellation to support emission monitoring in the future. We assess two key observing characteristics for space-based monitoring of CO2 emissions: pixel size and revisit rate, and we introduce a new method utilizing multiple images simultaneously to significantly improve emission estimates. The impact of pixel size ranging from 2–10 km for space-based imaging spectrometers is investigated using plume model simulations, accounting for biases in the observations. Performance of rectangular pixels is compared to square pixels of equal area. The findings confirm the advantage of the smallest pixels in this range and the advantage of square pixels over rectangular pixels. A method of averaging multiple images is introduced and demonstrated to be able to estimate emissions from small sources when the individual images are unable to distinguish the plume. Due to variability in power plant emissions, results from a single overpass cannot be directly extrapolated to annual emissions, the most desired timescale for regulatory purposes. We investigate the number of overpasses required to quantify annual emissions with a given accuracy, based on the mean variability from the 50 highest emitting US power plants. Although the results of this work alone are not sufficient to define the full architecture of a future CO 2 monitoring constellation, when considered along with other studies, they may assist in informing the design of a space-based system to support anthropogenic CO 2 emission monitoring. View Full-Text
Keywords: CO2 emissions; satellite; coal; climate change; anthropogenic; power plant; greenhouse gases CO2 emissions; satellite; coal; climate change; anthropogenic; power plant; greenhouse gases

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Hill, T.; Nassar, R. Pixel Size and Revisit Rate Requirements for Monitoring Power Plant CO2 Emissions from Space. Remote Sens. 2019, 11, 1608.

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