Strong methane point sources contribute a disproportionate fraction of total emissions across multiple basins in the United States

Daniel H. Cusworth, Andrew K. Thorpe, Alana K. Ayasse, David Stepp, Joseph Heckler, Gregory P. Asner, Charles E. Miller, Vineet Yadav, John W. Chapman, Michael L. Eastwood, Robert O. Green, Benjamin Hmiel, David R. Lyon, Riley M. Duren

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations

Abstract

Understanding, prioritizing, and mitigating methane (CH4) emissions requires quantifying CH4 budgets from facility scales to regional scales with the ability to differentiate between source sectors. We deployed a tiered observing system for multiple basins in the United States (San Joaquin Valley, Uinta, Denver-Julesburg, Permian, Marcellus). We quantify strong point source emissions (>10 kg CH4 h-1) using airborne imaging spectrometers, attribute them to sectors, and assess their intermittency with multiple revisits. We compare these point source emissions to total basin CH4 fluxes derived from inversion of Sentinel-5p satellite CH4 observations. Across basins, point sources make up on average 40% of the regional flux. We sampled some basins several times across multiple months and years and find a distinct bimodal structure to emission timescales: the total point source budget is split nearly in half by short-lasting and long-lasting emission events. With the increasing airborne and satellite observing capabilities planned for the near future, tiered observing systems will more fully quantify and attribute CH4 emissions from facility to regional scales, which is needed to effectively and efficiently reduce methane emissions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere2202338119
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Volume119
Issue number38
DOIs
StatePublished - Sep 20 2022

Keywords

  • fossil fuel
  • imaging spectroscopy
  • inversion
  • livestock
  • methane

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General

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