Methane, carbon dioxide, hydrogen sulfide, and isotopic ratios of methane observations from the Permian Basin tower network

Vanessa C. Monteiro, Natasha L. Miles, Scott J. Richardson, Zachary Barkley, Bernd J. Haupt, David Lyon, Benjamin Hmiel, Kenneth J. Davis

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


We describe the instrumentation, calibration, and uncertainty of the network of ground-based, in situ, cavity ring down spectroscopy (CRDS) greenhouse gas (GHG) measurements deployed in the Permian Basin. The primary goal of the network is to be used in conjunction with atmospheric transport modeling to determine methane emissions of the Delaware sub-basin of the Permian Basin oil and natural gas extraction area in Texas and New Mexico. Four of the measurements are based on tall communications towers, while one is on a building on a mountain ridge, with the recent addition of a small tower at that site. Although methane (CH4) is the primary species of interest, carbon dioxide (CO2), hydrogen sulfide (H2S), and the isotopic ratio of methane (CH4) are also reported for a subset of the sites. Measurements were reported following the WMO X2004A scale for CH4 and the WMO X2019 scale for CO2. CRDS instruments were calibrated for CH4 and CO2 in the laboratory prior to deployment. For H2S, data were offset-corrected using the minimum 40min running mean value of the day, and for 13CH4, calibrations were based on laboratory data. We describe the characteristics of the dataset with a set of illustrative analyses. Methane and carbon dioxide showed strong seasonality, with a well-defined diurnal cycle during the summer, which was opposed to the winter, when a diurnal cycle was absent. CH4 enhancements to the background, during the winter, are up to twice the summer values, which is attributed to the changes in boundary layer depth and wind speed. The largest CH4 enhancements occurred when winds blow from the center of the Delaware sub-basin, where most of the methane emissions come from. The magnitude of enhancements of CO2 did not present seasonality. H2S enhancements indicated a potential source northeast of the tower (Hobbs, New Mexico) where the inlet is installed. Isotopic ratios of methane indicated that oil and natural gas extraction is the source of local methane in the region. The hourly-averaged data, starting on 1 March 2020 and described in this paper, are archived at The Pennsylvania State University Data Commons at 10.26208/98y5-t941 (Monteiro et al., 2021).

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2401-2417
Number of pages17
JournalEarth System Science Data
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 20 2022

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Earth and Planetary Sciences


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