October 3, 2022 to November 18, 2022
Project Location: 
Austin TX, Harrisburg PA, and Broomfield CO
Funding Type: 
NSF Funded
Project Description: 

Methane Emissions Quantification at scales from 20 m to 200 km using the MethaneAIR Imaging Spectrometer on the NSF Gulfstream-V (MAIR-E)


MethaneAIR is a novel airborne imaging spectrometer with the unique capability of efficiently imaging large regions with high precision and granularity. It has been demonstrated to provide images of methane total column concentrations with unprecedented resolution, swath width, and precision. This experiment will provide a new framework for quantitative assessment of emissions from the O&G industry and other sources regions from the scale of 20 m to 200 km (e.g., agriculture). These data will provide a multi-scale, self-consistent estimate of emissions from these regions, both aggregated and disaggregated, including rigorous estimates of uncertainty.

The proposed assessment of overall methane emissions from a major fraction of the O&G production in the US will have a potentially huge impact on society. At present, emissions of methane are being strongly debated, and regulations proposed. We currently have very poor information on the total emissions and limited insight into where they are coming from within the various regions. We don’t fully understand why some regions appear to emit much more methane than others. The proposed work will shine a bright light on these questions, one that has never existed before.

MethaneAIR flights will comprehensively measure emissions from oil and gas provinces accounting for more than half of all US land-based production of natural gas. We will specifically address the following questions:

  • What are the basin-scale emission rates from each of the target regions?
  • What is the partitioning of basin-scale emissions between extensive point sources and very large numbers of smaller sources?
  • What are the factors causing emission quantities and partitioning to vary among oil and gas regions?

As a secondary objective, we plan to quantify landfill emissions within or near our planned oil and gas target regions to explore the effectiveness of methane capture technology.