Methane emissions from the Baltimore‐Washington area based on airborne observations

Wednesday, May 22nd, 2019

The value of local, observation-based greenhouse gas estimates is the focus of a recent paper co-authored by PCCRC graduate student fellow Olivia Salmon (PhD 2018, Chemistry) and professor emeritus Paul Shepson (Chemistry), and led by Xinrong Ren (University of Maryland). Their study finds that estimates of methane emissions from cities are dramatically underrepresented—a significant problem given that methane is a more potent greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide. To quantify emissions, the researchers used the Purdue Airborne Laboratory for Atmospheric Research (ALAR) to collect data on methane, carbon dioxide, carbon monoxide, ozone, and black carbon for the Baltimore-Washington region. They report that methane emissions from landfills and natural gas systems are up to 2.8 times higher than what is inferred from the national and state inventories, highlighting the need to reconcile state and national inventories with local observational data.

Ren, X., O. E. Salmon, J. R. Hansford, D. Ahn, D. Hall, S. E. Benish, P. R. Stratton, H. He,  S. Sahu, C. Grimes, A. M. F. Heimburger, C. R. Martin, M. D. Cohen, B. Stunder,  R. J. Salawitch, S. H. Ehrman, P. B. Shepson, and R. R. Dickerson: Methane Emissions From the Baltimore‐Washington Area Based on Airborne Observations: Comparison to Emissions Inventories. J. Geophys. Res. Atmos:, 2019.

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