Remote sensing and in situ measurements of methane and ammonia emissions from a megacity dairy complex: Chino, CA

Environ Pollut. 2017 Feb;221:37-51. doi: 10.1016/j.envpol.2016.09.083. Epub 2016 Dec 16.


Methane (CH4) and ammonia (NH3) directly and indirectly affect the atmospheric radiative balance with the latter leading to aerosol generation. Both have important spectral features in the Thermal InfraRed (TIR) that can be studied by remote sensing, with NH3 allowing discrimination of husbandry from other CH4 sources. Airborne hyperspectral imagery was collected for the Chino Dairy Complex in the Los Angeles Basin as well as in situ CH4, carbon dioxide (CO2) and NH3 data. TIR data showed good spatial agreement with in situ measurements and showed significant emissions heterogeneity between dairies. Airborne remote sensing mapped plume transport for ∼20 km downwind, documenting topographic effects on plume advection. Repeated multiple gas in situ measurements showed that emissions were persistent on half-year timescales. Inversion of one dairy plume found annual emissions of 4.1 × 105 kg CH4, 2.2 × 105 kg NH3, and 2.3 × 107 kg CO2, suggesting 2300, 4000, and 2100 head of cattle, respectively, and Chino Dairy Complex emissions of 42 Gg CH4 and 8.4 Gg NH3 implying ∼200k cows, ∼30% more than Peischl et al. (2013) estimated for June 2010. Far-field data showed chemical conversion and/or deposition of Chino NH3 occurs within the confines of the Los Angeles Basin on a four to six h timescale, faster than most published rates, and likely from higher Los Angeles oxidant loads. Satellite observations from 2011 to 2014 confirmed that observed in situ transport patterns were representative and suggests much of the Chino Dairy Complex emissions are driven towards eastern Orange County, with a lesser amount transported to Palm Springs, CA. Given interest in mitigating husbandry health impacts from air pollution emissions, this study highlights how satellite observations can be leveraged to understand exposure and how multiple gas in situ emissions studies can inform on best practices given that emissions reduction of one gas could increase those of others.

Keywords: Ammonia; Cavity enhanced absorption spectroscopy; Husbandry; IASI; Megacity; Methane; Remote sensing; TIR hyperspectral.

MeSH terms

  • Air Pollutants / analysis*
  • Air Pollution / analysis
  • Air Pollution / statistics & numerical data
  • Ammonia / analysis*
  • Animals
  • California
  • Carbon Dioxide / analysis
  • Cattle
  • Dairying / statistics & numerical data*
  • Environmental Monitoring / methods*
  • Methane / analysis*
  • Remote Sensing Technology


  • Air Pollutants
  • Carbon Dioxide
  • Ammonia
  • Methane