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Oil and Gas Industry Research

2012 - 2018

NOAA and CIRES researchers have led a growing national and international effort to better understand the atmospheric implications of oil and gas activities. Our scientists have led intensive field campaigns during winter and sustained year-round measurements. They've used innovative partnerships and platforms (mobile vans, vehicles, tall towers, temporary towers) to deploy instruments that measure air composition upwind, in, and downwind of oil and gas fields. These efforts – which include industry, state, and other federal agencies as integral partners – have resulted in major scientific findings related to ozone pollution, other air quality challenges, and the climate effects of oil and gas activities. CSL (formerly the Chemical Sciences Division (CSD) of the Earth System Research Laboratory) researchers have published or contributed to many peer-reviewed science papers on these topics:

Field Campaigns

SONGNEX 2015: Studying the air above shale oil and natural gas production areas in the western United States. Vast regions west of the Mississippi River are under development for oil and gas extraction, and the associated equipment has become a familiar sight on any cross-country road trip or flight. But while one focus is on what comes out of the ground, researchers and their colleagues, including principal investigator Joost de Gouw from CSD, are studying what escapes to the air – and how it is transformed in the atmosphere and affects air quality and climate. Read More

WINTER 2015: Wintertime Investigation of Transport, Emissions, and Reactivity. This 6-week field campaign in early 2015 is taking airborne measurements of atmospheric gases and particles that can affect air quality. Scientists, including principal investigator Steven Brown from CSD, are using instruments on board an NSF/NCAR research aircraft to sample several kinds of pollution sources in the mid-Atlantic and southeastern US, including oil and gas extraction fields. Read More