Source apportionment and sensitivity analysis: two methodologies with two different purposes
Abstract. This work reviews the existing methodologies for source apportionment and sensitivity analysis to identify key differences and stress their implicit limitations. The emphasis is laid on the differences between source
impacts (sensitivity analysis) and
contributions (source apportionment) obtained by using four different methodologies: brute-force top-down, brute-force bottom-up, tagged species and decoupled direct method (DDM). A simple theoretical example to compare these approaches is used highlighting differences and potential implications for policy. When the relationships between concentration and emissions are linear, impacts and contributions are equivalent concepts. In this case, source apportionment and sensitivity analysis may be used indifferently for both air quality planning purposes and quantifying source contributions.
However, this study demonstrates that when the relationship between emissions and concentrations is nonlinear, sensitivity approaches are not suitable to retrieve source contributions and source apportionment methods are not appropriate to evaluate the impact of abatement strategies. A quantification of the potential nonlinearities should therefore be the first step prior to source apportionment or planning applications, to prevent any limitations in their use. When nonlinearity is mild, these limitations may, however, be acceptable in the context of the other uncertainties inherent to complex models.
Moreover, when using sensitivity analysis for planning, it is important to note that, under nonlinear circumstances, the calculated impacts will only provide information for the exact conditions (e.g. emission reduction share) that are simulated.