Hydrocarbon Tracers Suggest Methane Emissions from Fossil Sources Occur...

Tribby, A. L., J. S. Bois, S. Montzka, E. Atlas, I. Vimont, X. Lan, P. P. Tans, J. W. Elkins, D. R. Blake, and P. Wennberg (2022), Hydrocarbon Tracers Suggest Methane Emissions from Fossil Sources Occur Predominately Before Gas Processing and That Petroleum Plays Are a Significant Source, Environ. Sci. Technol., doi:10.1021/acs.est.2c00927.

We use global airborne observations of propane (C3H8) and ethane (C2H6) from the Atmospheric Tomography (ATom) and HIAPER Pole-to-Pole Observations (HIPPO), as well as U.S.-based aircraft and tower observations by NOAA and from the NCAR FRAPPE campaign as tracers for emissions from oil and gas operations. To simulate global mole fraction fields for these gases, we update the default emissions’ configuration of C3H8 used by the global chemical transport model, GEOS-Chem v13.0.0, using a scaled C2H6 spatial proxy. With the updated emissions, simulations of both C3H8 and C2H6 using GEOS-Chem are in reasonable agreement with ATom and HIPPO observations, though the updated emission fields underestimate C3H8 accumulation in the arctic wintertime, pointing to additional sources of this gas in the high latitudes (e.g., Europe). Using a Bayesian hierarchical model, we estimate global emissions of C2H6 and C3H8 from fossil fuel production in 2016−2018 to be 13.3 ± 0.7 (95% CI) and 14.7 ± 0.8 (95% CI) Tg/year, respectively. We calculate bottom-up hydrocarbon emission ratios using basin composition measurements weighted by gas production and find their magnitude is higher than expected and is similar to ratios informed by our revised alkane emissions. This suggests that emissions are dominated by pre-processing activities in oil-producing basins.

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Tropospheric Composition Program (TCP)