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Quantifying Global Power Plant Carbon Dioxide Emissions With Imaging Spectroscopy

Cusworth, Daniel H. and Duren, Riley M. and Thorpe, Andrew K. and Eastwood, Michael L. and Green, Robert O. and Dennison, Philip E. and Frankenberg, Christian and Heckler, Joseph W. and Asner, Gregory P. and Miller, Charles E. (2021) Quantifying Global Power Plant Carbon Dioxide Emissions With Imaging Spectroscopy. AGU Advances, 2 (2). Art. No. e2020AV000350. ISSN 2576-604X. doi:10.1029/2020av000350.

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Anthropogenic carbon dioxide (CO₂) emissions dominate uncertainties in the global carbon budget. Global inventories, such as the National Greenhouse Gas Inventories, have latencies of 12–24 months and may not keep pace with rapidly changing infrastructure, particularly in the developing world. Our work reveals that airborne and satellite imaging spectrometers provide 3–30 m spatial resolution and accurate quantification of CO₂ emissions at the facility scale. Examples from 17 coal and gas fired power plants across the United States demonstrate robust correlation and 21% agreement on average between our remotely sensed estimates and simultaneous in situ measured emissions. We highlight four examples of coal-fired power plants in India, Poland, and South Korea, where we quantify significant carbon dioxide emissions from power plants where limited public emissions data exist. Leveraging previous work on methane (CH₄) plume detection, we present a strategy to exploit joint CO₂ and CH₄ plume imaging to quantify carbon emissions across widely distributed industrial infrastructure, including facilities that co-emit CO₂ and CH₄. We show an example of a coal operation, where we attribute 25% of greenhouse gas emissions to coal extraction (CH₄) and the remaining 75% to energy generation (CO₂). Satellite spectrometers could track high emitting coal-fired power plants that collectively contribute to 60% or more of global coal CO₂ emissions. Multiple revisits and coordinated targeting of these high emitting facilities by multiple spaceborne instruments will be key to reducing uncertainties in global anthropogenic CO₂ emissions and supporting emissions mitigation strategies.

Item Type:Article
Related URLs:
URLURL TypeDescription ItemAVIRIS-NG Data Portal ItemPRISMA data ItemRegistration for PRISMA data
Cusworth, Daniel H.0000-0003-0158-977X
Duren, Riley M.0000-0003-4723-5280
Thorpe, Andrew K.0000-0001-7968-5433
Eastwood, Michael L.0000-0002-4731-6083
Green, Robert O.0000-0001-9447-3076
Dennison, Philip E.0000-0002-0241-1917
Frankenberg, Christian0000-0002-0546-5857
Heckler, Joseph W.0000-0002-5381-9533
Asner, Gregory P.0000-0001-7893-6421
Miller, Charles E.0000-0002-9380-4838
Additional Information:© 2021. Jet Propulsion Laboratory, California Institute of Technology. AGU Advances published by Wiley Periodicals LLC on behalf of American Geophysical Union. This is an open access article under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial License, which permits use, distribution and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited and is not used for commercial purposes. Issue Online: 19 May 2021. Version of Record online: 19 May 2021. Manuscript accepted: 26 March 2021. Manuscript revised: 25 March 2021. Manuscript received: 20 November 2020. This work was supported in part by NASA's Carbon Monitoring System (CMS) Prototype Methane Monitoring System for California and Multi-tiered Carbon Monitoring System. Data from the California Methane Survey was supported by NASA's Earth Science Division, the California Air Resources Board under ARB-NASA Agreement 15RD028 Space Act Agreement 82-19863 and the California Energy Commission under CEC-500-15-004. We thank the GAO team at Arizona State for their efforts in conducting campaigns involved in this study. We also thank the AVIRIS-NG and Dynamic Aviation team for their efforts in conducting the multiple airborne campaigns involved in this study. We thank the Italian Space Agency for the PRISMA satellite targets. R. M. Duren acknowledges financial support from the High Tide Foundation and the Jet Propulsion Laboratory. Portions of this work were undertaken at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, California Institute of Technology, under contract with NASA. The authors declare that there is no conflict of interest. Data Availability Statement: AVIRIS-NG L1 radiances are available online at the AVIRIS-NG Data Portal ( GAO radiance data can be made available upon request. PRISMA data are publicly available to registered users at Registration is free and can be obtained at
Funding AgencyGrant Number
California Air Resources Board15RD028
California Energy CommissionCEC-500-15-004
High Tide FoundationUNSPECIFIED
Subject Keywords:Carbon dioxide; coal; imaging spectroscopy; power plant
Issue or Number:2
Record Number:CaltechAUTHORS:20210520-114000854
Persistent URL:
Official Citation:Cusworth, D. H., Duren, R. M., Thorpe, A. K., Eastwood, M. L., Green, R. O., Dennison, P. E., et al. (2021). Quantifying global power plant carbon dioxide emissions with imaging spectroscopy. AGU Advances, 2, e2020AV000350.
Usage Policy:No commercial reproduction, distribution, display or performance rights in this work are provided.
ID Code:109201
Deposited By: George Porter
Deposited On:24 May 2021 14:24
Last Modified:16 Nov 2021 19:34

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