Separation of methane emissions from agricultural and natural gas sources in the Colorado Front Range
Earth and related Environmental sciences
oil and gas
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This proof‐of‐concept study demonstrates that methane (CH4) emissions from natural gas (NG) and agriculture can be disentangled using the concept of excess column observations. A network of cost‐effective sensors measured excess column‐averaged dry‐air mole fractions for CH4 (ΔXCH4), ethane (ΔXC2H6 as NG tracer), and ammonia (ΔXNH3 from agriculture) in the Denver‐Julesburg Basin during March 2015. ΔXCH4 varied up to 17 ppb and was >3 times higher with winds from directions where NG is produced. The ΔXCH4 variance is explained by variations in the C2H6‐NH3 tracer pair, attributing 63 ± 17% to NG, 25 ± 10% to agriculture, and 12 ± 12% to other sources. The ratios ΔXC2H6/ΔXCH4 (16 ± 2%; indicates wet NG) and ΔXNH3/ΔXCH4 (43 ± 12%) were compatible with in situ measured ratios. Excess columns are independent of boundary layer height, characterize gases in the open atmosphere, are inherently calibrated, average over extended spatial scales, and provide a complementary perspective to quantify and attribute CH4 emissions on regional scales.
CitationKille, N.; Chiu, R.; Frey, M.; Hase, F.; Sha, M.K.; Blumenstock, T.; Hannigan, J.W.; Orphal, J.; Bon, D.; Volkamer, R. (2019). Separation of methane emissions from agricultural and natural gas sources in the Colorado Front Range. , Geophysical Research Letters, Vol. 46, Issue 7, 3990-3998, DOI: 10.1029/2019GL082132.