Methane emissions from 20 landfills across the United States using vertical radial plume mapping

J Air Waste Manag Assoc. 2012 Feb;62(2):183-97. doi: 10.1080/10473289.2011.639480.


Landfill fugitive methane emissions were quantified as a function of climate type and cover type at 20 landfills using US. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Other Test Method (OTM)-10 vertical radial plume mapping (VRPM) with tunable diode lasers (TDLs). The VRPM data were initially collected as g CH4/sec emission rates and subsequently converted to g CH4/m2/ day rates using two recently published approaches. The first was based upon field tracer releases of methane or acetylene and multiple linear regression analysis (MLRM). The second was a virtual computer model that was based upon the Industrial Source Complex (ISC3) and Pasquill plume stability class models (PSCMs). Calculated emission results in g CH4/m2/day for each measured VRPM with the two approaches agreed well (r2 = 0.93). The VRPM data were obtained from the working face, temporary soil, intermediate soil, and final soil or synthetic covers. The data show that methane emissions to the atmosphere are a function of climate and cover type. Humid subtropical climates exhibited the highest emissions for all cover types at 207, 127, 102, and 32 g CH4/m2/day, for working face (no cover), temporary, intermediate, and final cover, respectively. Humid continental warm summers showed 67, 51, and 27 g CH4/m2/day for temporary, intermediate, and final covers. Humid continental cool summers were 135, 40, and 26 g CH4/m2/day for the working face, intermediate, and final covers. Mediterranean climates were examined for intermediate and final covers only and found to be 11 and 6 g CH4/m2/day, respectively, whereas semiarid climates showed 85, 11, 3.7, and 2.7 g CH4/m2/day for working face, temporary, intermediate, and final covers. A closed, synthetically capped landfill covered with soil and vegetation with a gas collection system in a humid continental warm summer climate gave mostly background methane readings and average emission rates of only 0.09 g CH4/m2/day flux when measurable.

MeSH terms

  • Air Pollutants / analysis*
  • Climate
  • Computer Simulation
  • Lasers, Semiconductor
  • Linear Models
  • Methane / analysis*
  • Models, Chemical
  • Remote Sensing Technology*
  • Waste Management


  • Air Pollutants
  • Methane