Skip to main content

Changes in CO2 Emission Sources in Mexico City Metropolitan Area Deduced from Radiocarbon Concentrations in Tree Rings

  • Laura E Beramendi-Orosco (a1) (a2), Galia González-Hernández (a3) (a2), Angeles Martínez-Reyes (a4), Ofelia Morton-Bermea (a3), Francisco J Santos-Arévalo (a5), Isabel Gómez-Martínez (a5) and José Villanueva-Díaz (a6)...

We present radiocarbon (14C) in tree rings from Mexico City and a reconstruction of fossil CO2 concentrations for the last five decades, as part of a research program to understand the 14C dynamics in this complex urban area. Background values were established by 14C concentrations in tree rings from a nearby clean area. Agreement between background and NH-zone 2 values indicate Taxodium mucronatum is a good biomonitor for annual atmospheric 14C variations. Values for the urban tree rings were significantly lower than background values, indicating a 14C depletion from fossil CO2 emissions. There is an increasing trend of fossil CO2 between 1960 and 1990, in agreement with the population growth and the increasing demand for fossil fuels in Mexico City. Between 1990 and 2000, there is an apparent decrease in fossil CO2 concentration, increasing again after 2000. The decrease in 2000, despite being of the same magnitude as the overall uncertainty, may reflect environmental policies that improved the energy efficiency and reduced CO2 emissions in the area. The increase in fossil CO2 concentration between 2000 and 2010 may be attributable to the significant growth of motor vehicle usage in Mexico City, which made transportation the main energy-demanding and -emitting sector.

Corresponding author
*Corresponding author. Email:
Hide All
Beramendi-Orosco, LE, Gonzalez-Hernandez, G, Villanueva-Diaz, J, Santos-Arevalo, FJ, Gomez-Martinez, I, Cienfuegos-Alvarado, E, Morales-Puente, P, Urrutia-Fucugauchi, J. 2010. Modern radiocarbon levels for northwestern Mexico derived from tree rings—a comparison with Northern Hemisphere zones 2 and 3 curves. Radiocarbon 52(2–3):907914.
Beramendi-Orosco, LE, Sergio Hernandez-Morales, S, Gonzalez-Hernandez, G, Constante-Garcia, V, Villanueva-Diaz, J. 2013. Dendrochronological potential of Fraxinus uhdei and its use as bioindicator of fossil CO2 emissions deduced from radiocarbon concentrations in tree rings. Radiocarbon 55(3–4):833840.
Beramendi-Orosco, LE, Gonzalez-Hernandez, G, Martinez-Jurado, A, Martinez-Reyes, A, Garcia-Samano, A, Villanueva-Diaz, J, Santos-Arevalo, FJ, Gomez-Martinez, I, Amador-Muñoz, O. 2015. Temporal and spatial variations of atmospheric radiocarbon in the Mexico City Metropolitan Area. Radiocarbon 57(3):363375.
Capano, M, Marzaioli, F, Sirignano, C, Altieri, S, Lubritto, C, D’Onofrio, A, Terrasi, F. 2010. 14C AMS measurements in tree rings to estimate local fossil CO2 in Bosco Fontana forest (Mantova, Italy). Nuclear Instruments and Methods in Physics Research B 268:11131116.
DDF (Departamento del Distrito Federal). 1990. Programa Integral contra la Contaminación Atmosférica (PICCA). Un compromiso común. Zona Metropolitana. México, D.F. Available at: Accessed October 2016.
DDF (Departamento del Distrito Federal). 1996. Programa para Mejorar la Calidad del Aire en el Valle de México (PROAIRE) 1995–2000. Available at: Accessed October 2016.
Djuricin, S, Xu, X, Pataki, DE. 2012. The radiocarbon composition of tree rings as a tracer of local fossil fuel emissions in the Los Angeles basin: 1980–2008. Journal of Geophysical Research 117:D12302.
Doebelin, EO. 1990. Measurement Systems: Application and Design. 4th edition. McGraw-Hill. 960 p.
Escamilla-Herrera, I, Santos-Cerquera, C. 2012. La Zona Metropolitana del Valle de México: transformación urbano-rural en la región Centro de México. In: XXII Coloquio Internacional de Geocrítica, Bogota, Colombia, 7–11 May 2012.
Graven, HD, Gruber, N. 2011. Continental-scale enrichment of atmospheric 14CO2 from the nuclear power industry: potential impact on the estimation of fossil fuel-derived CO2 . Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics 11:1233912349.
Graven, HD, Stephens, BB, Guilderson, TP, Campos, TL, Schimel, DS, Campbell, JE, Keeling, RF. 2009. Vertical profiles of biospheric and fossil fuel-derived CO2 and fossil fuel CO2:CO ratios from airborne measurements of Δ14C, CO2 and CO above Colorado, USA. Tellus 61B:536546.
Grootes, PM, Farwell, GW, Schmidt, FH, Leach, DD, Stuiver, M. 1989. Rapid response of tree cellulose radiocarbon content to changes in atmospheric 14CO2 concentration. Tellus 41B:134148.
Harmon, ME, Bond‐Lamberty, B, Tang, J, Vargas, R. 2011. Heterotrophic respiration in disturbed forests: a review with examples from North America. Journal of Geophysical Research 116:G00K04.
Hsueh, DY, Krakauer, NY, Randerson, JT, Xu, X, Trumbore, SE, Southon, JR. 2007. Regional patterns of radiocarbon and fossil fuel-derived CO2 in surface air across North America. Geophysical Research Letters 34, L02816.
Hua, Q, Barbetti, M. 2004. Review of tropospheric bomb 14C data for carbon cycle modeling and age calibration purposes. Radiocarbon 46(3):12731298.
Hua, Q, Barbetti, M, Rakowski, AZ. 2013. Atmospheric radiocarbon for the period 1950–2010. Radiocarbon 55(4):20592072.
INEGI (Instituto Nacional de Estadística). 2014. Cuaderno estadístico y geográfico de la zona metropolitana del Valle de México. Accessed October 2016.
INEGI (Instituto Nacional de Estadística). 2016. Mapoteca Digital. Accessed October 2016.
Jauregui, E. 2004. Impact of land-use changes on the climate of the Mexico City Region. Investigaciones Geográficas, Boletín del Instituto de Geografía, UNAM 55:4660.
Keller, ED, Turnbull, JC, Norris, MW. 2016. Detecting long-term changes in point-source fossil CO2 emissions with tree rings archives. Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics 16:54815495.
Levin, I, Kromer, B, Schmidt, M, Sartorius, H. 2003. A novel approach for independent budgeting of fossil fuel CO2 over Europe by 14CO2 observations. Geophysical Research Letters 30(23):2194.
Levin, I, Hammer, S, Kromer, B, Meinhardt, F. 2008. Radiocarbon observations in atmospheric CO2: determining fossil fuel CO2 over Europe using Jungfraujoch observations as background. Science of the Total Environment 391:211216.
Levin, I, Rödenbeck, C. 2008. Can the envisaged reductions of fossil fuel CO2 emissions be detected by atmospheric observations? Naturwissenschaften 95:203208.
Nemec, M, Wacker, L, Hajdas, I, Gäggeler, H. 2010. Alternative methods for cellulose preparation for AMS measurement. Radiocarbon 52(2–3):13581370.
OECD (Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development). 2013. OECD Environmental Performance Reviews: Mexico 2013, OECD Publishing. Available at: Accessed October 2016.
Rakowski, AZ, Pawelczyk, S, Pazdur, A. 2001. Changes of 14C concentration in modern trees from Upper Silesia region, Poland. Radiocarbon 43(2B): 679689.
Rakowski, AZ, Nakamura, T, Pazdur, A. 2008. Variations of anthropogenic CO2 in urban area deduced by radiocarbon concentration in modern tree rings. Journal of Environmental Radioactivity 99(10):15581565.
Randerson, JT, Enting, IG, Schuur, EAG, Caldeira, K, Fung, IY. 2002. Seasonal and latitudinal variability of troposphere D14CO2: post bomb contributions from fossil fuels, oceans, the stratosphere, and the terrestrial biosphere. Global Biogeochemical Cycles 16(4):1112.
Reimer, PJ, Brown, TA, Reimer, RW. 2004. Discussion: reporting and calibration of post-bomb 14C data. Radiocarbon 46(3):12991304.
Rolph, G, Stein, A, Stunder, B. 2017. Real-time Environmental Applications and Display sYstem: READY. Environmental Modelling & Software 95:210228.
SEDEMA (Secretaría del Medio Ambiente de la Ciudad de México). 2000. Inventario de emisiones a la atmósfera Zona Metropolitana del Valle de México 2000. Available at: Accessed October 2016.
SEDEMA (Secretaría del Medio Ambiente de la Ciudad de México). 2012. Inventario de emisiones contaminantes y de efecto invernadero de la Zona Metropolitana del Valle de México 2010. Available at: Accessed October 2016.
SEDEMA (Secretaría del Medio Ambiente de la Ciudad de México). 2016. Inventario de Emisiones de la CDMX 2014, contaminantes criterio, tóxicos y de efecto invernadero. Avalilable at: Accessed October 2016.
Stahle, DW, Villanueva-Diaz, J, Burnette, DJ, Cerano-Paredes, J, Heim, RR, Fye, FK, Acuña-Soto, R, Therrell, MD, Cleaveland, MK, Stahle, DK. 2011. Major Mesoamerican droughts of the past millennium. Geophysical Research Letters 38(5):L05703.
Stein, AF, Draxler, RR, Rolph, GD, Stunder, BJB, Cohen, MD, Ngan, F. 2015. NOAA’s HYSPLIT atmospheric transport and dispersion modeling system. Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society 96:20592077.
Stokes, MA, Smiley, TL. 1968. An Introduction to Tree-Ring Dating. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. 73 p.
Stuiver, M, Polach, HA. 1977. Discussion: reporting of 14C data. Radiocarbon 19(3):355363.
Synal, HA, Stocker, M, Suter, M. 2007. MICADAS: a new compact radiocarbon AMS system. Nuclear Instruments and Methods B 259(1):713.
Tans, P, Keeling, R. 2016. Trends in Atmospheric Carbon Dioxide, Mauna Loa CO2 annual mean data. Available at: Accessed October 2016.
Turnbull, JC, Miller, JB, Lehman, SJ, Tans, PP, Sparks, RJ, Southon, J. 2006. Comparison of 14CO2, CO, and SF6 as tracers for recently added fossil fuel CO2 in the atmosphere and implications for biological CO2 exchange. Geophysical Research Letters 33:L01817.
Turnbull, JC, Sweeney, C, Karion, A, Newberger, T, Lehman, SJ, Tans, PP, Davis, KJ, Lauvaux, T, Miles, NL, Richardson, SJ, Cambaliza, MO, Shepson, PB, Gurney, K, Patarasuk, R, Razlivanov, I. 2015. Toward quantification and source sector identification of fossil fuel CO2 emissions from an urban area: Results from the INFLUX experiment. Journal of Geophysical Research Atmospheres 120:292312.
Turnbull, JC, Graven, HD, Krakauer, NY. 2016. Radiocarbon in the atmosphere. In: Schuur EAG, Druffel ERM, Trumbore SE, editors. Radiocarbon and Climate Change. Springer International Publishing. p 83137.
Vay, SA, Tyler, SC, Choi, Y, Blake, DR, Blake, NJ, Sachse, GW, Diskin, GS, Singh, HB. 2009. Sources and transport of Δ14C in CO2 within the Mexico City Basin and vicinity. Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics 9:49734985.
Villanueva-Díaz, J, Stahle, DW, Therrel, MD, Cleaveland, MK, Camacho Morfín, F, Núñez Díaz de la Fuente, P, Gómez Chávez, S, Sánchez Sesma, J, Ramírez García, JA. 2003. Registros climáticos de los ahuehuetes de Chapultepec en los últimos 450 años. Boletín del Archivo Histórico del Agua 23:3443.
Wacker, L, Nemeç, M, Bourquin, J. 2010a. A revolutionary graphitisation system: fully automated, compact and simple. Nuclear Instruments and Methods in Physics Research B 268(7–8):931934.
Wacker, L, Christl, M, Synal, H-A. 2010b. Bats: a new tool for AMS data reduction. Nuclear Instruments and Methods in Physics Research B 268(7–8):976979.
Recommend this journal

Email your librarian or administrator to recommend adding this journal to your organisation's collection.

  • ISSN: 0033-8222
  • EISSN: 1945-5755
  • URL: /core/journals/radiocarbon
Please enter your name
Please enter a valid email address
Who would you like to send this to? *



Altmetric attention score

Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 6
Total number of PDF views: 69 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 323 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between 2nd November 2017 - 17th August 2018. This data will be updated every 24 hours.