Modeling and interpretation of stable carbon isotope ratios of ethane in global chemical transport models

Authors

  • Olaf Stein,

    1. Institut für Chemie und Dynamik der Geosphäre–2: Troposphäre, Forschungszentrum Jülich, Jülich, Germany
    2. Also at Max Planck Institute for Meteorology, Hamburg, Germany.
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  • Jochen Rudolph

    1. Institut für Chemie und Dynamik der Geosphäre–2: Troposphäre, Forschungszentrum Jülich, Jülich, Germany
    2. Also at Centre for Atmospheric Chemistry, Chemistry Department, York University, Toronto, Ontario, Canada.
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Abstract

[1] Model calculations with two global 3D-CTMs (GISS and MOZART-2) in which we introduced ethane stable carbon isotopic ratios were performed. In both models, emission inventories based on the EDGAR database are used for VOC emissions. We considered source specific isotope fractionations and included global emissions from C3 and C4 plants which differ significantly in isotope ratio. Comparison of the model results with observation strongly indicates that the EDGAR emission inventory underestimates global ethane emissions by a factor of approximately 1.5. On the basis of the latitude-dependent differences between model predictions and the atmospheric observations of ethane reported by Rudolph (1995), estimates of magnitude and latitude range of sources missing in current emission inventories are made. However, the concentration data alone provide only limited constraints on the geographical distribution and only indirect information about the type of the missing sources. Isotope ratio studies can be very valuable to obtain additional insight. To study the dependence between the geographical distribution of the emissions and atmospheric ethane concentrations and isotope ratios, MOZART-2 model calculations were made where all emissions are concentrated in latitude bands as well as in specified regions. Two regimes can be distinguished on a global scale: In the source latitude band, dilution with background air explains most of the calculated concentration variation, while at latitudes farther away from the sources, chemical loss is the dominating process.

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