AiRMAPS Strategy

OAR laboratories have developed a strategy for a series of airborne campaigns in 2024–2028 to survey the majority of U.S. oil and gas (O&G) production and selected urban emission testbeds. The NOAA Twin Otter and WP-3D aircraft can be instrumented to measure greenhouse gases (methane, carbon dioxide) and other tracers (nitrogen oxides, carbon monoxide). The Twin Otter currently also measures wind velocities with a Doppler lidar, while a similar system is under development for the NOAA WP-3D. The enhanced NOAA WP-3D measurements also include co-emitted pollutants related to O&G and urban emissions (e.g., speciated volatile organic compounds (VOCs), oxidized nitrogen, speciated aerosol composition).

This series of flights will survey more than 90% of currently estimated O&G methane emissions and a similar fraction of O&G production to achieve the most comprehensive airborne methane and air pollutant assessment to date. Survey emissions estimates will provide critical evaluation of top-down and bottom-up methods to reduce uncertainty and improve reliability. Intercomparison of estimates from remote sensing and surface data will aid in assessing the accuracy of these approaches that provide longer-term monitoring of emission trends.

methane emissions estimates from U.S. O&G production basins
Methane emissions (in metric tons per day per square km) from facilities in U.S. O&G production basins. The percentage of total estimated U.S. O&G methane emissions is shown under each basin name for 2020. The legend and colored circles show proposed AiRMAPS survey regions by year and aircraft (NOAA Twin Otter and WP-3D). Map: Adapted from McDonald 2023.

Reference: McDonald, B.C., J. He, C. Harkins, J. de Gouw, N. Elguindi, R. Duren, J. Gilman, E.A. Kort, C.E. Miller, J. Peischl, G. Pétron, and C. Thompson, A Review of U.S. Oil and Gas Methane and Air Pollutant Emissions , in Environmental Magazine, Air and Waste Management Association, (2023).

cumulative methane emissions and gas production from each region
Cumulative methane emissions (%, bars) and cumulative gas-production (%, dots) for the principal O&G production regions (bottom scale) ordered by year of sampling. The top scale shows the aircraft and survey year in the AiRMAPS proposed schedule.