Implementation of RETRO Anthropogenic Emissions

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The RETRO inventory was retired in GEOS-Chem 12.5.0.

On this page we shall provide information about the RETRO anthropogenic VOC emissions inventory, and its implementation into GEOS-Chem.


Dear colleagues:

Updating the anthropogenic VOC emissions was identified as a priority update for GEOS-Chem at the previous GEOS-Chem Scientific and Users' Meeting. We have recently completed an update which allows RETRO anthropogenic VOC emissions to be read into the model. The RETRO inventory has improved temporal and spatial resolution and a more inclusive suite of speciated NMVOCs than many of the inventories currently employed. The new code allows for input of 12 anthropogenic VOCs, with a notable exception of acetone.

A description of RETRO and a comparison with the existing inventories is posted here. We have submitted this update to the GEOS-Chem support team for inclusion in the mainline model. It will remain an optional inventory (rather than the default) until there is some opportunity for comparison against observations.

Best regards,
Wes Reinhart
University of Minnesota

Implementation details

Here is a timeline of the implementation of RETRO emissions into GEOS-Chem.

Date Update
13 Feb 2015 In GEOS-Chem v10-01 and newer versions, the RETRO VOC emissions are read with the HEMCO emissions component. We have created new RETRO data files (in COARDS-compliant netCDF format) for use with the HEMCO emissions component. These new data files are contained in the HEMCO data directory tree. For detailed instructions on how to download these data files to your disk server, please see our Downloading the HEMCO data directories wiki post.
29 Mar 2011 The RETRO code was ported from v8-02-01 to v8-03-01 with minor changes. Please refer to the above documentation for details.
20 May 2011 Updated documentation with full-chemistry simulation results and several minor edits.
17 Aug 2011 RETRO emissions added into standard GEOS-Chem code and tested with 1-month benchmark simulation v9-01-02k. Benchmark was approved by Dylan Millet and Wes Reinhart.
22 Aug 2011 Two minor errors in the RETRO implementation were discovered by Dylan Millet. This update was tested in the 1-month benchmark simulation v9-01-02o and approved on 27 Sep 2011.

--Bob Y. 16:21, 22 August 2011 (EDT)

Data source

The original RETRO v1 data files are available on the ECCAD website (registration required):

RETRO v2 emissions are available for download at the following site (NOTE: This version is not used in GEOS-Chem yet):

--Melissa Sulprizio (talk) 17:54, 19 May 2016 (UTC)


  1. Implementation of RETRO Anthropogenic Emissions into GEOS-Chem, Wes Reinhart @ U. Minnesota
  2. Bolshcer, M, et al., RETRO Deliverable D1-6, RETRO Documentation, 2007. PDF
  3. Pulles, T, et al., Assessment of Global Emissions from Fuel Combustion in the Final Decades of the 20th Century, TNO report A-R0132/B, 2007. PDF

--Bob Y. 16:54, 24 March 2011 (EDT)

Previous issues that are now resolved

RETRO anthropogenic propane emissions are too low

This update was validated with the 1-month benchmark simulation v11-01j and approved on 03 Dec 2016

Emily Fischer wrote:

Zitely and I just looked at the C3H8 emissions totals for the globe. It looks like the default/ recommended emission inventory for C3H8 has been set to RETRO. Though we don't think the Xiao offline emission inventory is perfect, we do know that RETRO has C3H8 emissions are > 3 times lower than those in Pozzer et al. [2010], and should probably not be the default choice. We are working on a comparison between the model and the recent SONGNEX observations, so we should have a better recommendation for the US in a few months, but for now, I would recommend keeping Xiao as the default emission inventory when there are not US/Europe/East Asian regional inventories overwriting.

Zitely Tzompa followed up:

For both C2H6 and C3H8, I would recommend to set anthropogenic emissions using Xiao's inventory and biofuel emissions from Yevich and Logan for the entire globe. Then, overwrite the U.S. with NEI2011.
I would not recommend to overwrite Asia with MIX or STREETS because none of them show any emissions from the Northwestern part of China, where oil and natural gas basins are located.

After a preliminary 1-month benchmark for v11-01j, the GEOS-Chem Steering Committee decided that both NEI2011 and MIX should overwrite the Xiao emissions.

Daniel Jacob wrote:

The propane emission inventory from Xiao2008 introduced in v11-01j to replace RETRO does not include biofuels (as opposed to RETRO). We have therefore added the biofuel source of propane using Yevich and Logan. We are also superseding Xiao2008 with the NEI11 and MIX inventories over the US and East Asia.

--Melissa Sulprizio (talk) 19:46, 30 November 2016 (UTC)

RETRO anthropogenic ethane emissions are too low

This update was tested in the 1-month benchmark simulation v9-01-03i and approved on 26 Mar 2012.

Bess Corbitt (Harvard) found that the ethane emissions in RETRO inventory are too low, as evidenced by this plot:

Ethane caribic comparison.gif

Also, Cyndi Whaley (of U. Toronto) has created a PDF plot comparing GEOS-Chem (v8-02-01 and v9-01-01) to ground-based FTIR measurements for 2006. (The measurements come from Kim Strong's group at U. Toronto.) As you can see, ethane v9-01-02 is much lower than both the measurements and than the previous model version.

The emissions used in Yaping Xiao's offline ethane simulation are much better. Dylan Millet suggested replacing the ethane emissions in RETRO with off-line simulation values from Xiao et al. (2008). This has been implemented in GEOS-Chem v9-01-03.

--Bob Y. 15:41, 23 November 2011 (EST)

Update 3/22/12: Emily Fischer found that that ethane emissions in the EPA/NEI2005, Streets, and EMEP regional inventories are also too low. Therefore, we will replace these with Yaping Xiao's offline ethane simulation emissions as well.

--Melissa Payer 15:18, 23 March 2012 (EDT)