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Temporal variability largely explains top-down/bottom-up difference in methane emission estimates from a natural gas production region

Temporal variability largely explains top-down/bottom-up difference in methane emission estimates from a natural gas production region

Full Title: Temporal variability largely explains top-down/bottom-up difference in methane emission estimates from a natural gas production region
Author(s): Timothy L. Vaughn, Clay S. Bell, Cody K. Pickering, Stefan Schwietzke, Garvin A. Heath, Gabrielle P├ętron, Daniel J. Zimmerle, Russell C. Schnell, and Dag Nummedal
Publisher(s): National Academy of Sciences
Publication Date: November 1, 2018
Full Text: Download Resource
Description (excerpt):

This study spatially and temporally aligns top-down and bottom-up methane emission estimates for a natural gas production basin, using multiscale emission measurements and detailed activity data reporting. We show that episodic venting from manual liquid unloadings, which occur at a small fraction of natural gas well pads, drives a factor-of-two temporal variation in the basin-scale emission rate of a US dry shale gas play. The midafternoon peak emission rate aligns with the sampling time of all regional aircraft emission studies, which target well-mixed boundary layer conditions present in the afternoon. A mechanistic understanding of emission estimates derived from various methods is critical for unbiased emission verification and effective greenhouse gas emission mitigation. Our results demonstrate that direct comparison of emission estimates from methods covering widely different timescales can be misleading.

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