VOC Measurements in the Northern Colorado Front Range Metropolitan Area: Investigating the Impact of Oil and Natural Gas Emissions on O3 Production

Tuesday, 15 December 2015
Poster Hall (Moscone South)
Andrew Abeleira, Colorado State University, Fort Collins, CO, United States
Authors: Ilana Pollock1,2, Jake Zaragoza2, Emily V. Fischer2, Delphine K. Farmer1

1. Department of Chemistry, Colorado State University, Fort Collins, CO

2. Department of Atmospheric Science, Colorado State University, Fort Collins, CO

During summer months, the Northern Front Range Metropolitan Area (NFRMA) of Colorado consistently violates the 75 ppbv 8-hour EPA National Ambient Air Quality Standard (NAAQS) for ambient ozone (O3), despite continued reduction in anthropogenic emissions. The region has been deemed an O3 non-attainment zone since 2008. Ground-level O3 is produced from photochemical catalytic cycles involving OH radicals, volatile organic compounds (VOCs), and NOx (NO + NO2). VOC emissions in the NFRMA are dominated by anthropogenic sources and influenced by biogenic and agricultural sources, while NOx emissions are mainly from automobile exhaust. A growing concern in the region is the role of oil and natural gas (ONG) on VOC concentrations and the potential for O3 production. Increases in local VOC emissions will likely cause subsequent increase in local O3 concentrations as PO3 increases in a region that is already affected by high O3episodes.

As a part of the SONGNEX 2015 (Shale Oil and Natural Gas Nexus) campaign, we measured a broad suite of speciated VOCs during two 8-week deployments (March-May 2015, July-September 2015) at the Boulder Atmospheric Observatory in Erie, CO. VOC measurements were made with a custom-online multichannel gas chromatography system (50+ compounds hourly), along with measurements of O3, SO2, NOx, NOy, PAN, CO, CO2, and CH4. We use these data to investigate the role of different VOC sources, and ONG in particular, in contributing to VOC reactivity and thus instantaneous O3 production. Preliminary analysis of the Spring VOC data indicates that VOC reactivity is dominated by light alkanes typical of ONG emissions - specifically propane, consistent with previous winter-time studies. We will use the observed temperature-dependence of VOC concentrations and reactivity, along with weekday-weekend relationships of O3 and precursors, to examine the impact of ONG on O3 production in the Front Range.