15 Sep 2023
 | 15 Sep 2023
Status: this preprint is open for discussion and under review for Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics (ACP).

A bottom-up emission estimate for the 2022 Nord-Stream gas leak: derivation, simulations and evaluation

Rostislav Kouznetsov, Risto Hänninen, Andreas Uppstu, Evgeny Kadantsev, Yalda Fatahi, Marje Prank, Dmitrii Kouznetsov, Steffen Manfred Noe, Heikki Junninen, and Mikhail Sofiev

Abstract. A major release of methane from the Nord Stream pipelines occurred in the Baltic sea on 26 September 2022. Elevated levels of methane were recorded at many observational sites in northern Europe. While it is relatively straightforward to estimate the total emitted amount from the incidents (around 330 kt of methane), the detailed vertical and temporal distributions of the releases are needed for numerical simulations of the incident. Based on information from public media and basic physical concepts, we reconstructed vertical profiles and temporal evolution of the methane releases from the broken pipes, and simulated subsequent transport of the released methane in the atmosphere. Since we used pure-methane assumption, the inventory total amounts to 290 kt of methane.

The emission rates were calculated with a numerical solution of a problem of a gas leak from a half-opened pressurized pipe. Initial vertical distribution of the released gas was derived from a parametrization for an injection height of buoyant plumes, and validated with a set of large-eddy simulations by means of UCLALES model.

The estimated emission source was used to simulate the dispersion of the gas plume with the SILAM chemistry transport model. The simulated fields of the excess methane led to noticeable increase of concentrations at several carbon-monitoring stations in the Baltic Sea region. Comparison of the simulated and observed time series indicated an agreement within a couple of hours between timing of the plume arrival/departure at the stations with observed methane peaks. Comparison of absolute levels was quite uncertain. At most of the stations the magnitude of the observed and modelled peaks was comparable with natural variability of methane concentrations. The magnitude of peaks at a few stations close to the release was well above natural variability, however the magnitude of the peaks was very sensitive to minor uncertainties in the emission vertical profile and in the meteorology used to drive SILAM.

The obtained emission inventory and the simulation results can be used for further analysis of the incident and its climate impact. They can also be used as a test case for atmospheric dispersion models.

Rostislav Kouznetsov et al.

Status: open (until 27 Oct 2023)

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Rostislav Kouznetsov et al.

Model code and software

SILAM v5_8_2 Silam team

Video supplement

Methane dispersion form the Nord Stream gas leaks Rostislav Kouznetsov and Evgeny Kadantsev

Rostislav Kouznetsov et al.


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Short summary
With only the publicly available media reports, we were able to infer the temporal evolution and the injection height for the Nord Stream gas leaks in September 2022. The inventory specifies locations, vertical distributions and temporal evolution of the methane sources. The inventory can be used to simulate the event with atmospheric transport models. The inventory is supplemented with a set of observational data tailored to evaluate the results of the simulated atmospheric dispersion.