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Monday Seminar: Local to hemispheric atmospheric impacts of U.S. oil and natural gas development

Monday, October 16, 2017, 12:15PM - 1:15PM


Detlev Helmig



SEEC room S228 (Sievers room)


The development of hydraulic fracturing drilling techniques (fracking) for oil and natural gas (O&NG) extraction has triggered a steep rise in drilling activity and O&NG production in the U.S.  Atmospheric emissions of methane and volatile organic compounds (VOC) associated with these activities have become a concern for local and regional air quality, and atmospheric processes and climate forcing on a continental to global scale.

Monitoring during the summer 2014 Front Range Air Pollution and Photochemistry Experiment (FRAPPE) showed atmospheric VOC increases along a transect from Boulder to the east, reflecting higher emissions from the more dense O&NG operations in eastern parts of Boulder County and Weld County.  Since late winter 2017 we have been conducting continuous atmospheric monitoring at the Boulder Reservoir for tracking O&NG related emission changes.  Monitoring results are provided to the public in near real time via a public web portal.  Larger scale emission changes are reflected in global observations from the NOAA-INSTAAR global VOC monitoring program. This monitoring has shown a remarkable reversal of Northern Hemisphere long-term trends of O&NG related VOC. Global atmospheric concentrations of O&NG tracers peaked around 1970-1980, followed by downward trends for the next four decades from global emission controls. These declining trends halted between 2005-2010, and reversed to increasing concentrations, indicative of the hemispheric impact of U.S. O&NG emissions. 


Coffee and social hour starting at 11:45 a.m.


Free and open to the public.