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Continuous measurement and large-eddy simulation of greenhouse gas emissions at local spatial scales



Kuldeep R. Prasad, Elena Novakovskaia, Adam Nottrott, Ralph Keeling, Chris Sloop


Natural gas – a hydrocarbon gas mixture that consists primarily of CH4 – is perceived as “transition fuel” due to its high energy density and lower greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions during combustion relative to coal and oil. However, considering the life cycle GHG emissions from the entire natural gas production process, it is unclear whether fugitive CH4 emissions during drilling, refining and transportation offset the benefits associated with reduced GHG emissions during combustion. Analyses based on the best “bottom-up” estimates of the life cycle GHG footprint associated with natural gas production (Howarth et al, 2011; Jiang et al, 2011; Cathles et al, 2012) have produced conflicting answers to the following questions : Is natural gas a cleaner fuel source than coal (or oil) in terms of GHG emissions and global climate impacts? If natural gas is considered as a primary energy source, on what timescales will natural gas be beneficial for reducing the detrimental impacts of energy production on global climate change? Conclusive answers to these questions will shape national energy policy in the United States over the next century, yet no long- term, direct atmospheric measurements have been conducted to quantify CH4 emissions from natural gas extraction. This has been primarily due to the lack of appropriate measurement equipment. With the proliferation of robust and accurate spectrometers, long-term, continuous field measurements of CH4 concentration are now feasible. The Earth Networks GHG network (EN-GHG) was designed to measure and quantify CO2 and CH4 emissions at regional to national scales. Statistical analysis and conditional averaging of continuous data from sites in Pennsylvania and North Carolina indicate that EN-GHG also measures local O(1-10km) emissions from point sources. High spatiotemporal resolution large-eddy simulations (LES) of scalar emissions from surface sources in the atmospheric boundary layer are applied to characterize statistics of conce
Proceedings Title
Proceedings of the 4th NACP All Investigators Meeting
Conference Dates
February 4-7, 2013
Conference Location
Albuqueque, NM
Conference Title
4th NACP All Investigators Meeting


CH4 emissions, point source determination, Large-eddy simulation, atmospheric boundary layer, stability


Prasad, K. , Novakovskaia, E. , Nottrott, A. , Keeling, R. and Sloop, C. (2013), Continuous measurement and large-eddy simulation of greenhouse gas emissions at local spatial scales, Proceedings of the 4th NACP All Investigators Meeting, Albuqueque, NM (Accessed June 18, 2024)


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Created February 28, 2013, Updated February 19, 2017