The United States has committed to ambitious goals to reduce national greenhouse gas emissions. The Nation requires accurate information to underpin current emissions inventories, voluntary carbon markets and credits, and the efficacy of mitigation policies. The 2023 White House National Strategy to Advance an Integrated U.S. Greenhouse Gas Measurement, Monitoring, and Information System (GHG MMIS) calls for a coordinated effort to integrate capabilities currently spread out across federal and non-federal entities. GHG MMIS objectives are to improve both top-down (atmospheric based) and bottom-up (activity based) emissions estimates, coordinate these approaches, and improve their latency, completeness and accuracy. The U.S. Greenhouse Gas Center is a demonstration phase, multi-agency effort to consolidate and coordinate access to greenhouse gas (GHG) data in order to provide decision makers with a single location for trusted data and analyses. New and more accurate information will be needed in support of the 2023 EPA Rule for Oil and Natural Gas Operations intended to reduce emissions of methane and other air pollutants from the oil and gas (O&G) sector.

The NOAA Office of Oceanic and Atmospheric Research (OAR) has committed to organizing its research around societal challenges that include Confronting Challenges from our Changing Climate and Sustaining a Healthy Environment and Economy. In support of the White House National Strategy, and to address these societal challenges, NOAA OAR and NESDIS will lead a series of airborne campaigns in 2024-2028 to provide comprehensive and quantitative top-down emissions data for methane, other GHGs and major air pollutants from the O&G sector at basin scale and from selected urban areas. NOAA surveyed a large majority of U.S. O&G production regions in a series of campaigns in 2013, 2014 and 2015 in work that has contributed to the most comprehensive evaluation of onshore O&G methane emissions to date (Alvarez 2018, Peischl 2018). Oil and gas production, methane detection technologies and national emissions targets have all evolved markedly since that time. Newer and more comprehensive surveys are critically needed.

The deliverable of the NOAA strategy will be a quantitative assessment of current U.S. methane emissions from the majority of O&G production regions and selected urban testbeds. The assessment will include an evaluation of other GHGs and co-emitted air pollutants. Additional sources such as agriculture, landfills, coal mining and wetlands will be assessed as the opportunities arise. Airborne and satellite-based observations will be integrated and evaluated to achieve this objective.

OAR and NESDIS intend to execute this strategy in collaboration with airborne, remote sensing and ground-based assets from NOAA and partner agencies to demonstrate the value of an integrated, tiered GHG observing system. One purpose of the white paper is to foster community and partner engagement. The envisioned activities are based on current programs and conditional on the availability of resources. Participating OAR laboratories and programs include the Chemical Sciences Laboratory (CSL), the Air Resources Laboratory (ARL), the Global Monitoring Laboratory (GML) and the Atmospheric Chemistry Carbon Cycle and Climate Program (AC4) of the Climate Program Office (CPO). Participating NESDIS Programs include the Center for Satellite Applications and Research (STAR) and the National Centers for Environmental Information (NCEI). OAR and NESDIS will seek collaboration with other NOAA line offices (NWS), federal agencies (NIST, NASA, DOE, EPA, DOI), academic partners, and stakeholders (state and tribal agencies, the oil and gas (O&G) industry, non-governmental organizations (NGOs), private sector entities and data providers). NOAA NESDIS and NASA support spaceborne and airborne remote sensing of greenhouse gases (GHGs), and NOAA OAR, NIST and DOE support ground-based GHG networks. EPA, NOAA and NIST compile activity-based inventories. NOAA airborne surveys and satellite observations link these components together, evaluate their accuracy and completeness and support the development of more accurate emissions inventories.

For further information, download the AiRMAPS Summary

Reference: Alvarez, R.A., D. Zavala-Araiza, D.R. Lyon, D.T. Allen, Z.R. Barkley, A.R. Brandt, K.J. Davis, S.C. Herndon, D.J. Jacob, A. Karion, E.A. Kort, B.K. Lamb, T. Lauvaux, J.D. Maasakkers, A.J. Marchese, M. Omara, S.W. Pacala, J. Peischl, A.L. Robinson, P.B. Shepson, C. Sweeney, A. Townsend-Small, S.C. Wofsy, and S.P. Hamburg, Assessment of methane emissions from the U.S. oil and gas supply chain, Science, doi:10.1126/science.aar7204, 2018.

Reference: Peischl, J., S.J. Eilerman, J.A. Neuman, K.C. Aikin, J. de Gouw, J.B. Gilman, S.C. Herndon, R. Nadkarni, M. Trainer, C. Warneke, and T.B. Ryerson, Quantifying methane and ethane emissions to the atmosphere from central and western U.S. oil and natural gas production regions, Journal of Geophysical Research, doi:10.1029/2018JD028622, 2018.