Quantifying the uncertainties of a bottom-up emission inventory of anthropogenic atmospheric pollutants in China


Yu Zhao, Chris P Nielsen, Yu Lei, Michael B. McElroy, and Jiming Hao. 2011. “Quantifying the uncertainties of a bottom-up emission inventory of anthropogenic atmospheric pollutants in China.” Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics, 11, Pp. 2295-2308. Publisher's Version


The uncertainties of a national, bottom-up inventory
of Chinese emissions of anthropogenic SO2, NOx, and
particulate matter (PM) of different size classes and carbonaceous
species are comprehensively quantified, for the first
time, using Monte Carlo simulation. The inventory is structured
by seven dominant sectors: coal-fired electric power,
cement, iron and steel, other industry (boiler combustion),
other industry (non-combustion processes), transportation,
and residential. For each parameter related to emission factors
or activity-level calculations, the uncertainties, represented
as probability distributions, are either statistically fitted
using results of domestic field tests or, when these are
lacking, estimated based on foreign or other domestic data.
The uncertainties (i.e., 95% confidence intervals around the
central estimates) of Chinese emissions of SO2, NOx, total
PM, PM10, PM2.5, black carbon (BC), and organic carbon
(OC) in 2005 are estimated to be −14%13%, −13%37%,
−11%38%, −14%45%, −17%54%, −25%136%,
and −40%121%, respectively. Variations at activity levels
(e.g., energy consumption or industrial production) are
not the main source of emission uncertainties. Due to narrow
classification of source types, large sample sizes, and
relatively high data quality, the coal-fired power sector is estimated
to have the smallest emission uncertainties for all
species except BC and OC. Due to poorer source classifications
and a wider range of estimated emission factors,
considerable uncertainties of NOx and PM emissions from
cement production and boiler combustion in other industries
are found. The probability distributions of emission
factors for biomass burning, the largest source of BC and
OC, are fitted based on very limited domestic field measurements,
and special caution should thus be taken interpreting
these emission uncertainties. Although Monte Carlo simulation
yields narrowed estimates of uncertainties compared
to previous bottom-up emission studies, the results are not
always consistent with those derived from satellite observations.
The results thus represent an incremental research
advance; while the analysis provides current estimates of
uncertainty to researchers investigating Chinese and global
atmospheric transport and chemistry, it also identifies specific
needs in data collection and analysis to improve on
them. Strengthened quantification of emissions of the included
species and other, closely associated ones – notably
CO2, generated largely by the same processes and thus subject
to many of the same parameter uncertainties – is essential
not only for science but for the design of policies to redress
critical atmospheric environmental hazards at local, regional,
and global scales.


Final Manuscript in DASH
DOI: 10.5194/acp-11-2295-2011
Last updated on 02/06/2020