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See detailObservation and simulation of ethane (C2H6) at 23 FTIR sites
Mahieu, Emmanuel ULiege; Franco, B.; Pozzer, A. et al

Conference (2018, April 11)

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See detailObservation and simulation of ethane (C2H6) at 23 FTIR sites
Mahieu, Emmanuel ULiege; Franco, B; Pozzer, A et al

Poster (2017, December 13)

Ethane is the most abundant non-methane hydrocarbon (NMHC) in the Earth atmosphere. Its main sources are of anthropogenic origin, with globally 62% from leakage during production and transport of natural ... [more ▼]

Ethane is the most abundant non-methane hydrocarbon (NMHC) in the Earth atmosphere. Its main sources are of anthropogenic origin, with globally 62% from leakage during production and transport of natural gas, 20% from biofuel combustion and 18% from biomass burning. In the Southern hemisphere, anthropogenic emissions are lower which makes biomass burning emissions a more significant source. The main removal process is oxidation by the hydroxyl radical (OH), leading to a mean atmospheric lifetime of 2 months. Until recently, a prolonged decrease of its abundance has been documented, at rates of -1 to -2.7%/yr, with global emissions dropping from 14 to 11 Tg/yr over 1984-2010 owing to successful measures reducing fugitive emissions from its fossil fuel sources. However, subsequent investigations have reported on an upturn in the ethane trend, characterized by a sharp rise from about 2009 onwards. The ethane increase is attributed to the oil and natural gas production boom in North America, although significant changes in OH could also be at play.In the present contribution, we report the trend of ethane at 23 ground-based Fourier Transform Infrared (FTIR) sites spanning the 80ºN to 79ºS latitude range. Over 2010-2015, a significant ethane rise of 3-5%/yr is determined for most sites in the Northern Hemisphere, while for the Southern hemisphere the rates of changes are not significant at the 2-sigma uncertainty level. Dedicated model simulations by EMAC (ECHAM5/MESSy Atmospheric Chemistry; ~1.8×1.8 degrees) implementing various emission scenarios are included in order to support data interpretation. The usual underestimation of the NMHCs emissions in the main inventories is confirmed here for RCP85 (Representative Concentration Pathway Database v8.5). Scaling them by 1.5 is needed to capture the background levels of atmospheric ethane. Moreover, additional and significant emissions (~7 Tg over 2009-2015) are needed to capture the ethane rise in the Northern hemisphere. Attributing them to the oil and gas sector and locating them in North America allows EMAC to produce adequate trends in the Northern hemisphere, but not in the Southern hemisphere, where they are overestimated. Possible causes for this difference are discussed. [less ▲]

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See detailObservation and simulation of ethane at 22 FTIR sites
Mahieu, Emmanuel ULiege; Franco, Bruno ULiege; Pozzer, Andrea et al

Conference (2017, May 30)

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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 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 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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