Examining Transportation of Natural Gas Exploration Emissions in the High Plains Region Using the Wrf-Chem Model
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Strong-Henninger, Samantha I.
Surface ozone (O3) production relies on chemical reactions between nitrogen oxides (NOX) and volatile organic compounds (VOCs). Natural gas production is responsible for the production of both of these chemicals: heavy machinery in extracting processes generates nitrogen oxides and equipment leaks allow VOCs to vent into the atmosphere. Omaha, NE and Tulsa, OK are two cities with comparable size, populations, and topography. In contrast with one another, Tulsa has many natural gas drilling sites nearby, whereas Omaha lies above the Forest City Basin, which is an area with natural gas extraction potential. These two cities’ surface ozone emissions are contrasted with one another using the Weather Research and Forecasting-Chemistry (WRF-Chem) model and observations from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)-regulated ground-level ultraviolet spectrophotometry instruments. Air quality is simulated in both cities’ regions and focuses on advection from urban sources and natural gas drilling sites to rural regions downwind of these sources in order to determine the magnitude of ozone production forced by natural gas production as opposed to other urban processes. Ozone production is shown to be a problem for rural areas downwind of ozone precursor production sites. It was found that the implementation of a natural gas drilling field with 2,501 wells would produce a concentration increase of 1 – 2 ppb downwind.
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