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Environ Sci Technol. 2015 Jul 7;49(13):7889-95. doi: 10.1021/es506352j. Epub 2015 Mar 9.

Mobile Laboratory Observations of Methane Emissions in the Barnett Shale Region.

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†Aerodyne Research Inc., Billerica, Massachusetts 01821, United States.
‡Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences, University of Colorado Boulder, Boulder, Colorado 80309, United States.
§NOAA Earth System Research Laboratory, Boulder, Colorado 80309, United States.
∥Environmental Defense Fund, 301 Congress Ave Suite 1300, Austin, Texas 78701, United States.


Results of mobile ground-based atmospheric measurements conducted during the Barnett Shale Coordinated Campaign in spring and fall of 2013 are presented. Methane and ethane are continuously measured downwind of facilities such as natural gas processing plants, compressor stations, and production well pads. Gaussian dispersion simulations of these methane plumes, using an iterative forward plume dispersion algorithm, are used to estimate both the source location and the emission magnitude. The distribution of emitters is peaked in the 0-5 kg/h range, with a significant tail. The ethane/methane molar enhancement ratio for this same distribution is investigated, showing a peak at ∼1.5% and a broad distribution between ∼4% and ∼17%. The regional distributions of source emissions and ethane/methane enhancement ratios are examined: the largest methane emissions appear between Fort Worth and Dallas, while the highest ethane/methane enhancement ratios occur for plumes observed in the northwestern potion of the region. Individual facilities, focusing on large emitters, are further analyzed by constraining the source location.

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