Analysis of local-scale background concentrations of methane and other gas-phase species in the Marcellus Shale
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Analysis of local-scale background concentrations of methane and other gas-phase species in the Marcellus Shale
  • Published Date:

    2017

  • Source:
    Elementa-Science of the Anthropocene, 5, 1-20.
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  • Description:
    The Marcellus Shale is a rapidly developing unconventional natural gas resource found in part of the Appalachian region. Air quality and climate concerns have been raised regarding development of unconventional natural gas resources. Two ground-based mobile measurement campaigns were conducted to assess the impact of Marcellus Shale natural gas development on local scale atmospheric background concentrations of air pollution and climate relevant pollutants in Pennsylvania. The first campaign took place in Northeastern and Southwestern PA in the summer of 2012. Compounds monitored included methane (CH4), ethane, carbon monoxide (CO), nitrogen dioxide, and Proton Transfer Reaction Mass Spectrometer (PTR-MS) measured volatile organic compounds (VOC) including oxygenated and aromatic VOC. The second campaign took place in Northeastern PA in the summer of 2015. The mobile monitoring data were analyzed using interval percentile smoothing to remove bias from local unmixed emissions to isolate local-scale background concentrations. Comparisons were made to other ambient monitoring in the Marcellus region including a NOAA SENEX flight in 2013. Local background CH4 mole fractions were 140 ppbv greater in Southwestern PA compared to Northeastern PA in 2012 and background CH4 increased 100 ppbv from 2012 to 2015. CH4 local background mole fractions were not found to have a detectable relationship between well density or production rates in either region. In Northeastern PA, CO was observed to decrease 75 ppbv over the three year period. Toluene to benzene ratios in both study regions were found to be most similar to aged rural air masses indicating that the emission of aromatic VOC from Marcellus Shale activity may not be significantly impacting local background concentrations. In addition to understanding local background concentrations the ground-based mobile measurements were useful for investigating the composition of natural gas emissions in the region.
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