Direct Continuous Measurements of Methane Emissions from a Landfill: Method, Station and Latest Results

Monday, 15 December 2014
George G Burba1, Liukang Xu1, Xiaomao Lin2, Jim Amen1, Karla Welding3 and Dayle K McDermitt1, (1)LI-COR Biosciences, Lincoln, NE, United States, (2)Kansas State Univ, Manhattan, KS, United States, (3)Bluff Road Landfill, Lincoln, NE, United States
Solar-powered automated flux station was deployed continuously inside the Bluff Road Landfill (Lincoln, NE) for the period of over4 years starting June 2010. Landfill methane emissions were measured using the eddy covariance method, reporting hourly emission rates. The data shown in this presentation are from the period of June to December 2010 when no gas recovery was in operation. The continuous measurements of hourly emission rates allowed a number of important analyses of the key factors affecting landfill methane emissions at different time scales.

In particular, the results show that landfill methane emissions strongly depended on changes in barometric pressure. Rising barometric pressure suppressed the emission, while falling barometric pressure enhanced the emission, resulting in up to a 35-fold variation in day-to-day methane emissions. Wavelet coherence analysis revealed a strong spectral coherency between variations of barometric pressure and methane emission at periodicities ranging from 1 day to 8 days. Power spectrum and ogive analysis showed that at least 10 days of continuous measurements was needed in order to capture 90% of the total variance in the methane emission time series at the site.

From these results, it is apparent that point-in-time measurements taken at monthly or longer time intervals using techniques such as the trace plume method, the mass balance method, or the closed-chamber method will be subject to large variations in measured emission rates because of the barometric pumping phenomenon. Estimates of long-term integrated methane emissions based on such measurements could yield uncertainties, ranging from 28% underestimation to 32% overestimation.

The results demonstrate a need for continuous measurements to quantify annual total landfill emissions. This conclusion may also apply to the wetlands, peatlands, lakes, and other environments where emissions are from porous media or ebullition.