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Volume 11, issue 3 | Copyright
Atmos. Meas. Tech., 11, 1689-1705, 2018
https://doi.org/10.5194/amt-11-1689-2018
© Author(s) 2018. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License.

Research article 27 Mar 2018

Research article | 27 Mar 2018

Atmospheric characterization through fused mobile airborne and surface in situ surveys: methane emissions quantification from a producing oil field

Ira Leifer1, Christopher Melton1, Marc L. Fischer2, Matthew Fladeland3, Jason Frash1, Warren Gore3, Laura T. Iraci3, Josette E. Marrero3, Ju-Mee Ryoo3, Tomoaki Tanaka3, and Emma L. Yates3 Ira Leifer et al.
  • 1Bubbleology Research International, Solvang, CA 93463, USA
  • 2Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, 1 Cyclotron Road, Berkeley, CA 94720, USA
  • 3NASA Ames Research Center, Moffett Field, CA 94035, USA

Abstract. Methane (CH4) inventory uncertainties are large, requiring robust emission derivation approaches. We report on a fused airborne–surface data collection approach to derive emissions from an active oil field near Bakersfield, central California. The approach characterizes the atmosphere from the surface to above the planetary boundary layer (PBL) and combines downwind trace gas concentration anomaly (plume) above background with normal winds to derive flux. This approach does not require a well-mixed PBL; allows explicit, data-based, uncertainty evaluation; and was applied to complex topography and wind flows.

In situ airborne (collected by AJAX – the Alpha Jet Atmospheric eXperiment) and mobile surface (collected by AMOG – the AutoMObile trace Gas – Surveyor) data were collected on 19 August 2015 to assess source strength. Data included an AMOG and AJAX intercomparison transect profiling from the San Joaquin Valley (SJV) floor into the Sierra Nevada (0.1–2.2km altitude), validating a novel surface approach for atmospheric profiling by leveraging topography. The profile intercomparison found good agreement in multiple parameters for the overlapping altitude range from 500 to 1500m for the upper 5% of surface winds, which accounts for wind-impeding structures, i.e., terrain, trees, buildings, etc. Annualized emissions from the active oil fields were 31.3±16Gg methane and 2.4±1.2Tg carbon dioxide. Data showed the PBL was not well mixed at distances of 10–20km downwind, highlighting the importance of the experimental design.

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Airborne/mobile-surface data were collected to derive active oil field trace gas emissions near Bakersfield, CA, characterizing the atmosphere from the surface to above the planetary boundary layer (PBL) by combining downwind concentration anomaly (plume) above background with normal winds. Air–surface comparison for a mountain profile (0.1–2.2 km) confirmed surface winds. Annualized oil field emissions were 31.3±16 Gg CH4 and 2.4±1.2 Tg CO2. The PBL was not well mixed even 10–20 km downwind.
Airborne/mobile-surface data were collected to derive active oil field trace gas emissions near...
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