Aircraft-Based Measurements of Point Source Methane Emissions in the Barnett Shale Basin

Environ Sci Technol. 2015 Jul 7;49(13):7904-13. doi: 10.1021/acs.est.5b00410.


We report measurements of methane (CH4) emission rates observed at eight different high-emitting point sources in the Barnett Shale, Texas, using aircraft-based methods performed as part of the Barnett Coordinated Campaign. We quantified CH4 emission rates from four gas processing plants, one compressor station, and three landfills during five flights conducted in October 2013. Results are compared to other aircraft- and surface-based measurements of the same facilities, and to estimates based on a national study of gathering and processing facilities emissions and 2013 annual average emissions reported to the U.S. EPA Greenhouse Gas Reporting Program (GHGRP). For the eight sources, CH4 emission measurements from the aircraft-based mass balance approach were a factor of 3.2-5.8 greater than the GHGRP-based estimates. Summed emissions totaled 7022 ± 2000 kg hr(-1), roughly 9% of the entire basin-wide CH4 emissions estimated from regional mass balance flights during the campaign. Emission measurements from five natural gas management facilities were 1.2-4.6 times larger than emissions based on the national study. Results from this study were used to represent "super-emitters" in a newly formulated Barnett Shale Inventory, demonstrating the importance of targeted sampling of "super-emitters" that may be missed by random sampling of a subset of the total.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Air Pollutants / analysis*
  • Aircraft*
  • Geography
  • Geologic Sediments / chemistry*
  • Methane / analysis*
  • Texas
  • Waste Disposal Facilities


  • Air Pollutants
  • Methane