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Monitoring methane in the boundary layer using a network of instruments at tall towers in the northeastern US



Kuldeep R. Prasad, Elena Novakovskaia


Methane is one of the major greenhouse gases and in recent years more efforts have been undertaken to estimate its emissions at local and regional scales utilizing new observing systems. During 2012, Earth Networks Inc. deployed a dense GHG observing network in mid-Atlantic region installing cavity ring-down spectrometers (CRDS) continuously at tall towers. Every site has a collocated weather station providing real-time wind, temperature, humidity, pressure and other atmospheric parameters. Additionally, there are surface weather stations in the area surrounding the towers. In this study we use atmospheric observations provided by the GHG and weather networks to analyze spatial distribution of methane and to detect its sources in the northeastern US. We analyze the data from five sites surrounding the region where there is an ongoing hydraulic fracturing (“fracking”) and identify the spikes in the observations when winds are from that area. Measurements of GHG’s are taken at two heights allowing for identification of periods when boundary layer is well mixed and periods when nearby sources impact methane readings. We also use the WRF-CHEM to compare simulated dispersion patterns with observed mixing ratio. Combining atmospheric observations with prior emission estimates from inventories and computing footprints using a coupled WRF-STILT system, we carry out the inversions and estimate the uncertainties. Transport model fields from WRF, including boundary layer heights, are validated on Earth Networks’ weather observations as well as radiometers and profilers data.
Proceedings Title
Proceedings of 93rd AMS Annual Meeting
Conference Dates
January 6-10, 2013
Conference Location
Austin, TX
Conference Title
93rd AMS Annual Meeting


Inversion Analysis, Greenhouse Gas Measurements


Prasad, K. and Novakovskaia, E. (2012), Monitoring methane in the boundary layer using a network of instruments at tall towers in the northeastern US, Proceedings of 93rd AMS Annual Meeting, Austin, TX (Accessed July 17, 2024)


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Created December 24, 2012, Updated February 19, 2017