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See detailAtmospheric implications of large C2-C5 alkane emissions from the U.S. oil and gas industry
Tzompa-Sosa, Z; Henderson, B H; Keller, C A et al

in Journal of Geophysical Research. Atmospheres (2019), (2013), 1--22

Emissions of C2-C5 alkanes from the U.S. oil and gas sector have changed rapidly over the last decade. We use a nested GEOS-Chem simulation driven by updated 2011NEI emissions with aircraft, surface and ... [more ▼]

Emissions of C2-C5 alkanes from the U.S. oil and gas sector have changed rapidly over the last decade. We use a nested GEOS-Chem simulation driven by updated 2011NEI emissions with aircraft, surface and column observations to 1) examine spatial patterns in the emissions and observed atmospheric abundances of C2-C5 alkanes over the U.S., and 2) estimate the contribution of emissions from the U.S. oil and gas industry to these patterns. The oil and gas sector in the updated 2011NEI contributes over 80% of the total U.S. emissions of ethane (C2H6) and propane (C3H8), and emissions of these species are largest in the central U.S. Observed mixing ratios of C2-C5 alkanes show enhancements over the central U.S. below 2 km. A nested GEOS-Chem simulation underpredicts observed C3H8 mixing ratios in the boundary layer over several U.S. regions and the relative underprediction is not consistent, suggesting C3H8 emissions should receive more attention moving forward. Our decision to consider only C4-C5 alkane emissions as a single lumped species produces a geographic distribution similar to observations. Due to the increasing importance of oil and gas emissions in the U.S., we recommend continued support of existing long-term measurements of C2-C5 alkanes. We suggest additional monitoring of C2-C5 alkanes downwind of northeastern Colorado, Wyoming and western North Dakota to capture changes in these regions. The atmospheric chemistry modeling community should also evaluate whether chemical mechanisms that lump larger alkanes are sufficient to understand air quality issues in regions with large emissions of these species. [less ▲]

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See detailRevisiting global fossil fuel and biofuel emissions of ethane
Tzompa-Sosa, Z. A.; Mahieu, Emmanuel ULiege; Franco, Bruno ULiege et al

in Journal of Geophysical Research. Atmospheres (2017), 122(4), 2493--2512

Recent measurements over the Northern Hemisphere indicate that the long-term decline in the atmospheric burden of ethane (C2H6) has ended and the abundance increased dramatically between 2010 and 2014 ... [more ▼]

Recent measurements over the Northern Hemisphere indicate that the long-term decline in the atmospheric burden of ethane (C2H6) has ended and the abundance increased dramatically between 2010 and 2014. The rise in C2H6 atmospheric abundances has been attributed to oil and natural gas extraction in North America. Existing global C2H6 emission inventories are based on outdated activity maps that do not account for current oil and natural gas exploitation regions. We present an updated global C2H6 emission inventory based on 2010 satellite-derived CH4 fluxes with adjusted C2H6 emissions over the U.S. from the National Emission Inventory (NEI 2011). We contrast our global 2010 C2H6 emission inventory with one developed for 2001. The C2H6 difference between global anthropogenic emissions is subtle (7.9 versus 7.2 Tg yr−1), but the spatial distribution of the emissions is distinct. In the 2010 C2H6 inventory, fossil fuel sources in the Northern Hemisphere represent half of global C2H6 emissions and 95% of global fossil fuel emissions. Over the U.S., unadjusted NEI 2011 C2H6 emissions produce mixing ratios that are 14–50% of those observed by aircraft observations (2008–2014). When the NEI 2011 C2H6 emission totals are scaled by a factor of 1.4, the Goddard Earth Observing System Chem model largely reproduces a regional suite of observations, with the exception of the central U.S., where it continues to underpredict observed mixing ratios in the lower troposphere. We estimate monthly mean contributions of fossil fuel C2H6 emissions to ozone and peroxyacetyl nitrate surface mixing ratios over North America of ~1% and ~8%, respectively. [less ▲]

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See detailEvaluating ethane and methane emissions associated with the development of oil and natural gas extraction in North America
Franco, Bruno ULiege; Mahieu, Emmanuel ULiege; Emmons, L. K. et al

in Environmental Research Letters (2016), 11(4), 044010

Sharp rises in the atmospheric abundance of ethane (C2H6) have been detected from 2009 onwards in the Northern Hemisphere as a result of the unprecedented growth in the exploitation of shale gas and tight ... [more ▼]

Sharp rises in the atmospheric abundance of ethane (C2H6) have been detected from 2009 onwards in the Northern Hemisphere as a result of the unprecedented growth in the exploitation of shale gas and tight oil reservoirs in North America. Using time series of C2H6 total columns derived from ground-based FTIR observations made at five selected NDACC sites, we characterize the recent C2H6 evolution and determine growth rates of ~5%/yr at mid-latitudes and of ~3%/yr at remote sites. Results from CAM-chem simulations with the HTAP2 bottom-up inventory for anthropogenic emissions are found to greatly underestimate the current C2H6 abundances. Doubling global emissions is required to reconcile the simulations and the observations prior to 2009. We further estimate that North American anthropogenic C2H6 emissions have increased from 1.6 Tg/yr in 2008 to 2.8 Tg/yr in 2014, i.e. by 75% over these six years. We also completed a second simulation with new top-down emissions of C2H6 from North American oil and gas activities, biofuel consumption and biomass burning, inferred from space-borne observations of methane (CH4) from GOSAT. In this simulation, GEOS-Chem is able to reproduce FTIR measurements at the mid-latitudinal sites, underscoring the impact of the North American oil and gas development on the current C2H6 abundance. Finally we estimate that the North American oil and gas emissions of CH4, a major greenhouse gas, grew from 20 to 35 Tg/yr over the period 2008 to 2014, in association with the recent C2H6 rise. [less ▲]

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See detailINVESTIGATING MODEL DEFICIENCIES IN THE GLOBAL BUDGET OF ETHANE
Tzompa-Sosa, Z. A.; Keller, C. A.; Turner, A. J. et al

Poster (2015, December 14)

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See detailRecent ethane increase above North America: comparison between FTIR measurements and model simulations
Franco, Bruno ULiege; Bader, Whitney ULiege; Mahieu, Emmanuel ULiege et al

Conference (2015, June 11)

Ethane (C2H6) has a large impact on tropospheric composition and air quality because of its involvement in the global VOC (volatile organic compound) – HOx – NOx chemistry responsible for generating and ... [more ▼]

Ethane (C2H6) has a large impact on tropospheric composition and air quality because of its involvement in the global VOC (volatile organic compound) – HOx – NOx chemistry responsible for generating and destroying tropospheric ozone. By acting as a major sink for tropospheric OH radicals, the abundance of C2H6 influences the atmospheric content of carbon monoxide and impacts the lifetime of methane. Moreover, it is an important source of PAN, a thermally unstable reservoir for NOx radicals. On a global scale, the main sources of C2H6 are leakage from the production, transport of natural gas loss, biofuel consumption and biomass burning, mainly located in the Northern Hemisphere. Due to its relatively long lifetime of approximately two months, C2H6 is a sensitive indicator of tropospheric pollution and transport. Using an optimized retrieval strategy (see Franco et al., 2014), we present here a 20-year long-term time series of C2H6 column abundance retrieved from ground-based Fourier Transform InfraRed (FTIR) solar spectra recorded from 1994 onwards at the high-altitude station of Jungfraujoch (Swiss Alps, 46.5° N, 3580 m a.s.l.), part of the Network for the Detection of Atmospheric Composition Change (NDACC, see http://www.ndacc.org). After a regular 1994 – 2008 decrease of the C2H6 amounts, which is very consistent with prior major studies (e.g., Aydin et al., 2011; Simpson et al., 2012) and our understanding of global C2H6 emissions, trend analysis using a bootstrap resampling tool reveals a C2H6 upturn and a statistically-significant sharp burden increase from 2009 onwards (Franco et al., 2014). We hypothesize that this observed recent increase in C2H6 could affect the whole Northern Hemisphere and may be related to the recent massive growth in the exploitation of shale gas and tight oil reservoirs. This hypothesis is supported by measurements derived from solar occultation observations performed since 2004 by the Atmospheric Chemistry Experiment – Fourier Transform Spectrometer (ACE-FTS) instrument and at other NDACC sites, namely Toronto (44° N) and Thule (77° N). Indeed, the recent rates of changes characterizing these data sets are consistent in magnitude and sign with the one derived from the FTIR measurements at Jungfraujoch. In contrast, the ethane time series form Lauder (45° S) shows a monotonic decrease over the last two decades. Investigating both the cause and impact on air quality of the C2H6 upturn should be a high priority for the atmospheric chemistry community. [less ▲]

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See detailRecent increase of ethane detected in the remote atmosphere of the Northern Hemisphere
Franco, Bruno ULiege; Bader, Whitney ULiege; Bovy, Benoît ULiege et al

Conference (2015, April 13)

Ethane (C2H6) has a large impact on tropospheric composition and air quality because of its involvement in the global VOC (volatile organic compound) – HOx – NOx chemistry responsible for generating and ... [more ▼]

Ethane (C2H6) has a large impact on tropospheric composition and air quality because of its involvement in the global VOC (volatile organic compound) – HOx – NOx chemistry responsible for generating and destroying tropospheric ozone. By acting as a major sink for tropospheric OH radicals, the abundance of C2H6 influences the atmospheric content of carbon monoxide and impacts the lifetime of methane. Moreover, it is an important source of PAN, a thermally unstable reservoir for NOx radicals. On a global scale, the main sources of C2H6 are leakage from the production, transport of natural gas loss, biofuel consumption and biomass burning, mainly located in the Northern Hemisphere. Due to its relatively long lifetime of approximately two months, C2H6 is a sensitive indicator of tropospheric pollution and transport. Using an optimized retrieval strategy (see Franco et al., 2014), we present here a 20-year long-term time series of C2H6 column abundance retrieved from ground-based Fourier Transform InfraRed (FTIR) solar spectra recorded from 1994 onwards at the high-altitude station of Jungfraujoch (Swiss Alps, 46.5° N, 3580 m a.s.l.), part of the Network for the Detection of Atmospheric Composition Change (NDACC, see http://www.ndacc.org). After a regular 1994 – 2008 decrease of the C2H6 amounts, which is very consistent with prior major studies (e.g., Aydin et al., 2011; Simpson et al., 2012) and our understanding of global C2H6 emissions, trend analysis using a bootstrap resampling tool reveals a C2H6 upturn and a statistically-significant sharp burden increase from 2009 onwards (Franco et al., 2014). We hypothesize that this observed recent increase in C2H6 could affect the whole Northern Hemisphere and may be related to the recent massive growth in the exploitation of shale gas and tight oil reservoirs. This hypothesis is supported by measurements derived from solar occultation observations performed since 2004 by the Atmospheric Chemistry Experiment – Fourier Transform Spectrometer (ACE-FTS) instrument and at other NDACC sites, namely Toronto (44° N) and Thule (77° N). Indeed, the recent rates of changes characterizing these data sets are consistent in magnitude and sign with the one derived from the FTIR measurements at Jungfraujoch. In contrast, the ethane time series form Lauder (45° S) shows a monotonic decrease over the last two decades. Investigating both the cause and impact on air quality of the C2H6 upturn should be a high priority for the atmospheric chemistry community. [less ▲]

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See detailRetrieval of ethane from ground-based FTIR solar spectra using improved spectroscopy: recent burden increase above Jungfraujoch
Franco, Bruno ULiege; Bader, Whitney ULiege; Toon, G. C. et al

in Journal of Quantitative Spectroscopy and Radiative Transfer (2015), 160(C), 36-49

An improved spectroscopy is used to implement and optimize the retrieval strategy of ethane (C2H6) from ground-based Fourier Transform Infrared (FTIR) solar spectra recorded at the high-altitude station ... [more ▼]

An improved spectroscopy is used to implement and optimize the retrieval strategy of ethane (C2H6) from ground-based Fourier Transform Infrared (FTIR) solar spectra recorded at the high-altitude station of Jungfraujoch (Swiss Alps, 46.5° N, 8.0° E, 3580m a.s.l.). The improved spectroscopic parameters include C2H6 pseudo-lines in the 2720-3100 cm-1 range and updated line parameters for methyl chloride and ozone. These improved spectroscopic parameters allow for substantial reduction of the fitting residuals as well as enhanced information content. They also contribute to limiting oscillations responsible for ungeophysical negative mixing ratio profiles. This strategy has been successfully applied to the Jungfraujoch solar spectra available from 1994 onwards. The resulting time series is compared with C2H6 total columns simulated by the state-of-the-art chemical transport model GEOS-Chem. Despite very consistent seasonal cycles between both data sets, a negative systematic bias relative to the FTIR observations suggests that C2H6 emissions are underestimated in the current inventories implemented in GEOS-Chem. Finally, C2H6 trends are derived from the FTIR time series, revealing a statistically-significant sharp increase of the C2H6 burden in the remote atmosphere above Jungfraujoch since 2009. Evaluating cause of this change in the C2H6 burden, which may be related to the recent massive growth of shale gas exploitation in North America, is of primary importance for atmospheric composition and air quality in the Northern Hemisphere. [less ▲]

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