A Comparative Look at Global CO/CO2 Ratios

Molly Smith1, Nicole Grossberg2, James Flynn2, Andreas Beyersdorf3, Glenn Diskin3, Stephanie Vay3, John Holloway4, Jeff Peischl4, Glenn Sachse3, V. Kirchhoff3, Xin Lan2, K.W. Thoning4, D.R. Kitzis4, A. Crotwell4, Steven C. Wofsy5, Barry Lefer2

University, 2University of Houston, 3NASA LaRC, 4NOAA ESRL, 5Harvard University

Full Oxidation

(Burling et al, 2010 & Cofer et al, 1998. Images obtained from wikipedia.org)

Full Oxidation Partial Oxidation

(Burling et al, 2010 & Cofer et al, 1998. Images obtained from wikipedia.org)

Hydrocarbons + O2 à CO2 + H2O + Energy Hydrocarbons + O2 à CO2 + H2O + Less Energy + CO

Efficient Combustion

Inefficient Combustion

(Burling et al, 2010 & Cofer et al, 1998. Images from wikipedia.org & royaloakscc.com)

Efficiency Ratio
!   One popular standard for measuring combustion efficiency: the efficiency ratio.
!   ER = CO/CO2

!   LOWER ratio !   less CO, more CO2 !   BETTER efficiency

!   HIGHER ratio !   more CO, less CO2
Wildfire plume explored by SARP 2013.

!   WORSE efficiency

But What if the Efficiency Ratio Was Applied to Urban Pollution?
!   This could potentially be a valuable tool for comparing pollution control measures of different cities.

Los Angeles Smog Layer

Data Used--Urban


Data Used--Wildfires


Observed CO/CO2 Ratios

Observed CO/CO2 Ratios

Observed CO/CO2 Ratios--Urban

Observed CO/CO2 Ratios

What About Cities in Developing Countries?

(Ghauri et al, 2006)

So that’s urban CO and CO2. But what about global, nonurban CO/CO2 ratios?

HIPPO Missions


HIPPO Missions



(Below 4,000 ft.)

HIPPO CO Concentration
(Below 4,000 ft.)

HIPPO CO2 Concentration

(Below 4,000 ft.)

!   Comparing the CO/CO2 ratio of different cities is a viable way to compare the air quality control measures of those cities. !   The CO/CO2 ratio is mostly dependent on the concentration of CO in the sample. !   Cities without substantial pollution control measures have CO/ CO2 ratios at or exceeding wildfire levels. !   Globally, CO/CO2 ratios are highest in the northern hemisphere. They are lowest near the southern polar regions. !   Paired with improved satellite detection of CO and CO2, the ability to compare these worldwide efficiency ratios will greatly help to pinpoint areas in need of better pollution control.


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