Inconsistencies in sulfur dioxide emissions from the Canadian oil sands and potential implications
McLinden, C.A., Adams, C.L.F., Fioletov, V., Griffin, D., Makar, P.A., Zhao, X., Kovachik, A., Dickson, N., Brown, C., Krotkov, N., Li, C., Theys, N., Hedelt, P., Loyola, D.G.
Earth and related Environmental sciences
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Satellite-derived and reported sulfur dioxide (SO2) emissions from the Canadian oil sands are shown to have been consistent up to 2013. Post-2013, these sources of emissions data diverged, with reported emissions dropping by a factor of two, while satellite-derived emissions for the region remained relatively constant, with the discrepancy (satellite-derived emissions minus reported emissions) peaking at 50 kt(SO2) yr−1 around 2016. The 2013–2014 period corresponds to when new flue-gas desulfurization units came on-line. Previous work has established a high level of consistency between at-stack SO2 emissions observations and satellite estimates, and surface monitoring network SO2 concentrations over the same multi-year period show similar trends as the satellite data, with a slight increase in concentrations post-2013. No clear explanation for this discrepancy currently exists. The implications of the discrepancy towards estimated total sulfur deposition to downwind ecosystems were estimated relative to 2013 emissions levels, with the satellite-derived values leaving the area of regional critical load exceedances of aquatic ecosystems largely unchanged from 2013 values, 335 000 km2, and reported values potentially decreasing this area to 185 000 km2.
CitationMcLinden, C.A., Adams, C.L.F., Fioletov, V., Griffin, D., Makar, P.A., Zhao, X., Kovachik, A., Dickson, N., Brown, C., Krotkov, N., Li, C., Theys, N., Hedelt, P., Loyola, D.G. (2021). Inconsistencies in sulfur dioxide emissions from the Canadian oil sands and potential implications. , Environmental Research Letters, Vol. 16, Issue 1, A014012, DOI: 10.1088/1748-9326/abcbbb.