AiRMAPS Tiered Observing System

tiered observing system for emissions quantification
Schematic of a tiered observing system composed of surface, airborne and satellite assets that is used to evaluate and monitor U.S. oil and gas and urban emissions of methane and air pollutants. Adapted from McDonald 2023.

Intensive Airborne Surveys

Long-term monitoring of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and air pollutants associated with oil and gas (O&G) production and urban areas requires a comprehensive observing system that is composed of ground monitoring systems as well as airborne and satellite remote sensing systems. The latter are powerful but nascent technologies that need rigorous verification. NOAA airborne surveys and remote sensing approaches represent the currently best-available methodology to validate and augment new remote sensing technology. OAR has developed state-of-the-art research aircraft instrumentation and has a long history in the execution of airborne campaigns. Based on this proven expertise, OAR will derive emissions using airborne surveys involving several detection and analysis methods.

Long-term Satellite Observations

Satellite observations augment ground monitoring capability and have become a viable source of information – they are the "eyes in the sky" that provide routine daily observations for long periods of time and thereby provide continuity and trends from regional to global scales. While well calibrated ground-based sensors often provide the most accurate GHG and pollutant measurements, NOAA and its partner agencies use a fleet of geostationary and polar-orbiting satellites to observe emissions from large sources as well as derive concentrations assuming a well-mixed atmosphere. In the last decade, a host of commercial and non-profit methane observing satellites have come into the fore (e.g., GHGSat, MethaneSAT). Civilian and commercial/non-profit satellite instruments serve diverse needs by observing methane emissions from different source sectors. However, detecting and quantifying depends on assumptions that require thorough validation:

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).