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Atmospheric Chemistry, Carbon Cycle and Climate (AC4) logo

Ground-Based Measurements to Study Fossil Fuels Production Operations Emissions of Methane and Non-Methane Hydrocarbons and their Atmospheric Impacts

Fossil fuel production in the US is a large source of methane, a potent greenhouse gas, and non-methane hydrocarbons (NMHCs), potential ozone precursors. A number of top-down studies on methane emissions from oil and gas producing basins have shown substantial discrepancies with bottom-up inventory estimates and also suggested that the fraction of natural gas production leaked to the atmosphere can vary greatly from one basin to another. The goal of this project is to help reconcile the gap between bottom-up and top-down methane emissions estimates at the regional scale by deploying in-situ instrumentation and discrete air sampling on-board the NOAA GMD Mobile Laboratory in coordination with planned airborne campaigns in three unconventional fossil fuel producing basins: (1) the Denver-Julesburg shale and tight sand oil and gas producing Basin of Colorado, (2) the San Juan coal bed methane and coal producing Basin in New Mexico, and (3) a shale dry gas region of the Marcellus in Pennsylvania. Intensive road surveys will be conducted to map CH4 and 13CH4 throughout each region, significant methane emissions from fossil fuel operations and from non fossil-fuel related sources will be identified and discrete air sampling in individual sources plumes and in background air collected to document their chemical signatures. The CH4, used to constrain the partitioning of methane total emissions derived from airborne trace gases measurements or inverse modeling efforts between different methane sources. 13CH4 and NMHC source signatures and regional mapping will be

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