21 Jul 2023
 | 21 Jul 2023
Status: this preprint is open for discussion and under review for Atmospheric Measurement Techniques (AMT).

Toward on-demand measurements of greenhouse gas emissions using an uncrewed aircraft Aircore system

Zihan Zhu, Javier Gonzalez-Rocha, Yifan Ding, Isis Frausto-Vicencio, Sajjan Heerah, Akula Venkatram, Manvendra Dubey, Don Collins, and Francesca Hopkins

Abstract. This paper evaluates the performance of a multirotor uncrewed aircraft and Aircore system (UAAS) for measuring vertical profiles of wind velocity (speed and direction) and the mole fractions of methane (CH4) and carbon dioxide (CO2), and presents a use case that combines UAAS measurements and dispersion modeling to quantify CH4 emissions from a dairy farm. To evaluate the atmospheric sensing performance of the UAAS, four field deployments were performed at three locations in the San Joaquin Valley of California where CH4 hotspots were observed downwind of dairy farms. A comparison of the observations collected on board the UAAS and an 11-m meteorological tower show that the UAAS can measure wind velocity trends with a root mean squared error varying between 0.4 and 1.1 m s-1 when the wind magnitude is less than 3.5 m s-1. Findings from UAAS flight deployments and a calibration experiment also show that the UAAS can reliably resolve temporal variations in the mole fractions of CH4 and CO2 occurring over 10 second periods or longer. Results from the UAAS and dispersion modeling use case further demonstrate that UAAS have great potential as a low-cost tool for detecting and quantifying CH4 emissions in near real-time.

Zihan Zhu et al.

Status: open (extended)

Comment types: AC – author | RC – referee | CC – community | EC – editor | CEC – chief editor | : Report abuse
  • RC1: 'Comment on egusphere-2023-1527', Anonymous Referee #1, 12 Aug 2023 reply
    • CC1: 'Reply on RC1', Zihan Zhu, 13 Sep 2023 reply

Zihan Zhu et al.

Zihan Zhu et al.


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Short summary
Increases in agriculture, oil and gas, and waste management activities have contributed to the growth of atmospheric methane levels and climate warming. In this manuscript, we explore the use of small uncrewed aircraft systems (sUAS) and Aircore technology to detect and quantify methane emissions. Results from field experiments demonstrate that sUAS and Aircore technology can be effective for detecting and quantifying methane emissions in near real-time.