Deep learning applied to CO2 power plant emissions quantification using simulated satellite images
Abstract. The quantification of emissions of greenhouse gases and air pollutants through the inversion of plumes in satellite images remains a complex problem that current methods can only assess with significant uncertainties. The anticipated launch of the CO2M satellite constellation in 2026 is expected to provide high-resolution images of CO2 column-averaged mole fractions (XCO2), opening up new possibilities. However, the inversion of future CO2 plumes from CO2M will encounter various obstacles. A challenge is the CO2 plume low signal-to-noise ratio, due to the variability of the background and instrumental errors in satellite measurements. Moreover, uncertainties in the transport and dispersion processes further complicate the inversion task.
To address these challenges, deep learning techniques, such as neural networks, offer promising solutions for retrieving emissions from plumes in XCO2 images. Deep learning models can be trained to identify emissions from plume dynamics simulated using a transport model. It then becomes possible to extract relevant information from new plumes and predict their emissions.
In this paper, we employ convolutional neural networks (CNN) to estimate the emission fluxes from a plume in a pseudo XCO2 image. Our dataset used to train and test such methods includes pseudo images based on simulations of hourly XCO2, NO2 and wind fields near various power plants in Eastern Germany, tracing plumes from anthropogenic and biogenic sources. CNN models are trained to predict emissions from three power plants that exhibit diverse characteristics. The power plants used to assess the deep learning model's performance are not used to train the model. We find that the CNN model outperforms state of the art plume inversion approaches, achieving highly accurate results with an absolute error about half of that of the cross-sectional flux method. Furthermore, we show that our estimations are only slightly affected by the absence of NO2 fields or a detection mechanism as additional information. Finally, interpretability techniques applied to our models confirm that the CNN automatically learns to identify the XCO2 plume and to assess emissions from the plume concentrations. These promising results suggest a high potential of CNNs in estimating local CO2 emissions from satellite images.
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