Net CO2 surface emissions at Bern, Switzerland inferred from ambient observations of CO2, delta(O-2/N-2), and (222) Rn using a customized radon tracer inversion

S. van der Laan, I. T. van der Laan-Luijkx, L. Zimmermann, F. Conen, M. Leuenberger

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Citations (Scopus)


The (222)Radon tracer method is a powerful tool to estimate local and regional surface emissions of, e.g., greenhouse gases. In this paper we demonstrate that in practice, the method as it is commonly used, produces inaccurate results in case of nonhomogeneously spread emission sources, and we propose a different approach to account for this. We have applied the new methodology to ambient observations of CO2 and (222)Radon to estimate CO2 surface emissions for the city of Bern, Switzerland. Furthermore, by utilizing combined measurements of CO2 and (O-2/N-2) we obtain valuable information about the spatial and temporal variability of the main emission sources. Mean net CO2 emissions based on 2 years of observations are estimated at (11.22.9) kt km(-2) a(-1). Oxidative ratios indicate a significant influence from the regional biosphere in summer/spring and fossil fuel combustion processes in winter/autumn. Our data indicate that the emissions from fossil fuels are, to a large degree, related to the combustion of natural gas which is used for heating purposes.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1580-1591
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Geophysical Research: Atmospheres
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 16 Feb 2014


  • CO2
  • (222)Radon tracer inversion
  • O-2
  • N-2
  • fossil fuel emissions
  • biospheric respiration
  • oxidative ratio
  • RN-222
  • AIR

Cite this