9.5 Understanding the Impact of Oil and Gas Extraction Activities on Air Quality in the Northern Front Range Metropolitan Area (NFRMA)

Tuesday, 24 January 2017: 5:00 PM
401 (Washington State Convention Center )
Maryam Abdi-Oskouei, Univ. of Iowa, Iowa City, IA; and G. R. Carmichael

Natural gas (NG), with lower carbon dioxide emission in comparison to coal, has been promoted as a bridge fuel that can smooth the transition from fossil fuels to zero carbon energy sources. Methane and VOCs are the main component of NG and can escape into the atmosphere during the extraction of NG. NOxemission from compressors facilities and trucks are other major air pollutants emitted from NG extraction sites. These pollutants are precursors of tropospheric ozone and can impact regional air quality. 

The Northern Front Range Metropolitan Area (NFRMA) with the population of 4.8 million experience higher than the National Ambient Air Quality Standard (NAAQS) ozone on a regular basis in summer. In order to control tropospheric ozone effectively, it is very important to understand the emission and transport of ozone precursors. The various sources of air pollutants in the NFRMA such as oil and NG extraction facilities, agricultural activities, urban pollution, and power plants and also complex terrain and transport are the major complications in understanding high ozone concentration in this region.

We use WRF-Chem and the National Emission Inventory (NEI-2011) to simulate the transport and production of ozone in the NFRMA. Simulated values are compared against ground-based and airborne measurements during the Front Range Air Pollution and Photochemistry Experiment (FRAPPÉ) and the NASA DISCOVER-AQ 2014 flight campaigns. These comparisons are used to evaluate the performance of WRF-Chem simulation in capturing the complex meteorology in this area and also to assess the accuracy of emission estimates in the NEI-2011. We use simulations based on NEI-2011 (oil and NG emission included and excluded) to investigate the impact of such activities on ozone concentration in this area.

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