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Hydrocarbon Tracers Suggest Methane Emissions from Fossil Sources Occur Predominately Before Gas Processing and That Petroleum Plays Are a Significant Source

Tribby, Ariana L. and Bois, Justin S. and Montzka, Stephen A. and Atlas, Elliot L. and Vimont, Isaac and Lan, Xin and Tans, Pieter P. and Elkins, James W. and Blake, Donald R. and Wennberg, Paul O. (2022) Hydrocarbon Tracers Suggest Methane Emissions from Fossil Sources Occur Predominately Before Gas Processing and That Petroleum Plays Are a Significant Source. Environmental Science and Technology, 56 (13). pp. 9623-9631. ISSN 0013-936X. PMCID PMC9260955. doi:10.1021/acs.est.2c00927.

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We use global airborne observations of propane (C₃H₈) and ethane (C₂H₆) from the Atmospheric Tomography (ATom) and HIAPER Pole-to-Pole Observations (HIPPO), as well as U.S.-based aircraft and tower observations by NOAA and from the NCAR FRAPPE campaign as tracers for emissions from oil and gas operations. To simulate global mole fraction fields for these gases, we update the default emissions’ configuration of C₃H₈ used by the global chemical transport model, GEOS-Chem v13.0.0, using a scaled C₂H₆ spatial proxy. With the updated emissions, simulations of both C₃H₈ and C₂H₆ using GEOS-Chem are in reasonable agreement with ATom and HIPPO observations, though the updated emission fields underestimate C₃H₈ accumulation in the arctic wintertime, pointing to additional sources of this gas in the high latitudes (e.g., Europe). Using a Bayesian hierarchical model, we estimate global emissions of C₂H₆ and C₃H₈ from fossil fuel production in 2016–2018 to be 13.3 ± 0.7 (95% CI) and 14.7 ± 0.8 (95% CI) Tg/year, respectively. We calculate bottom-up hydrocarbon emission ratios using basin composition measurements weighted by gas production and find their magnitude is higher than expected and is similar to ratios informed by our revised alkane emissions. This suggests that emissions are dominated by pre-processing activities in oil-producing basins.

Item Type:Article
Related URLs:
URLURL TypeDescription CentralArticle
Tribby, Ariana L.0000-0002-6435-4575
Bois, Justin S.0000-0001-7137-8746
Montzka, Stephen A.0000-0002-9396-0400
Atlas, Elliot L.0000-0003-3847-5346
Vimont, Isaac0000-0002-0740-4927
Tans, Pieter P.0000-0002-9883-0787
Elkins, James W.0000-0003-4701-3100
Blake, Donald R.0000-0002-8283-5014
Wennberg, Paul O.0000-0002-6126-3854
Additional Information:© 2022 The Authors. Published by American Chemical Society. Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International (CC BY-NC-ND 4.0). Received 11 February 2022. Accepted 18 May 2022. Revised 18 May 2022. Published online 14 June 2022. Published in issue 5 July 2022. This work was supported by the Resnick Sustainability Institute, including computations conducted in the Resnick High Performance Computing Center. A.L.T. received funding from NSF Award No. DGE-1745301. NOAA support was provided for HIPPO by NSF Award No. AGS-0628452; California Institute of Technology support for ATom was provided by NASA Grant Award No. NNX15AG61A. NOAA support for ATom was provided by NASA EVS2 Award No. NNH17AE26I; additional support was provided by NASA Upper Atmosphere Research Program award No. NNH13AV69I. NOAA laboratory and salary support is from NOAA Climate Change Program. S.A.M. acknowledges funding in part from NOAA Climate Program Office’s AC4 Program. NOAA flask sampling and technical support was provided by Dr. Fred Moore of NOAA/CIRES. Additional technical support was provided by C. Siso, B. Miller, M. Crotwell, C. Sweeney, A. Andrews, J. Higgs, D. Neff, J. Kofler, K. McKain, M. Madronich, P. Handley, and S. Wolter. We thank IHS Markit for providing PointLogic economic data. The authors declare no competing financial interest.
Group:Resnick Sustainability Institute
Funding AgencyGrant Number
Resnick Sustainability InstituteUNSPECIFIED
NSF Graduate Research FellowshipDGE-1745301
National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)UNSPECIFIED
Subject Keywords:ethane; propane; natural gas; methane; energy
Issue or Number:13
PubMed Central ID:PMC9260955
Record Number:CaltechAUTHORS:20220711-653341000
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Official Citation:Hydrocarbon Tracers Suggest Methane Emissions from Fossil Sources Occur Predominately Before Gas Processing and That Petroleum Plays Are a Significant Source Ariana L. Tribby, Justin S. Bois, Stephen A. Montzka, Elliot L. Atlas, Isaac Vimont, Xin Lan, Pieter P. Tans, James W. Elkins, Donald R. Blake, and Paul O. Wennberg Environmental Science & Technology 2022 56 (13), 9623-9631 DOI: 10.1021/acs.est.2c00927
Usage Policy:No commercial reproduction, distribution, display or performance rights in this work are provided.
ID Code:115474
Deposited By: George Porter
Deposited On:12 Jul 2022 14:29
Last Modified:12 Jul 2022 14:29

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