SATELLITE BASED ANALYSIS OF CARBON MONOXIDE LEVELS OVER ALBERTA OIL SAND
Monday, 15 December 2014
The rapid expansion of oil sands activities and massive energy requirements to extract and upgrade the bitumen require a comprehensive understanding of their potential environmental impacts, particularly on air quality. In this study, satellite-based analysis of carbon monoxide (CO) levels was used to assess the magnitude and distribution of this pollutant throughout Alberta oil sands region. Measurements of Pollution in the Troposphere (MOPITT) V5 multispectral product that uses both near-infrared and the thermal-infrared radiances for CO retrieval were used. MOPITT-based climatology and inter-annual variations were examined for 12 years (2002-2013) on spatial and temporal scales. Seasonal climatological maps for CO total columns indicated conspicuous spatial variations in all seasons except in winter where the CO spatial variations are less prominent. High CO loadings are observed to extend from the North East to North West regions of Alberta, with highest values in spring. The CO mixing ratios at the surface level in winter and spring seasons exhibited dissimilar spatial distribution pattern where the enhancements are detected in south eastern rather than northern Alberta. Analyzing spatial distributions of Omega at 850 mb pressure level for four seasons implied that, conditions in northeastern Alberta are more favorable for up lofting while in southern Alberta, subsidence of CO emissions are more likely. Time altitude CO profile climatology as well as the inter-annual variability were investigated for the oil sands and main urban regions in Alberta to assess the impact of various sources on CO loading. Monthly variations over urban regions are consistent with the general seasonal cycle of CO in Northern Hemisphere which exhibits significant enhancement in winter and spring, and minimum mixing ratios in summer. The typical seasonal CO variations over the oil sands region are less prominent. This study has demonstrated the potential use of multispectral CO product over Alberta.