Quantifying sources of methane using light alkanes in the Los Angeles basin, California

J. Peischl, T. B. Ryerson, J. Brioude, K. C. Aikin, A. E. Andrews, E. Atlas, D. Blake, B. C. Daube, J. A. De Gouw, E. Dlugokencky, G. J. Frost, D. R. Gentner, J. B. Gilman, A. H. Goldstein, R. A. Harley, J. S. Holloway, J. Kofler, W. C. Kuster, P. M. Lang, P. C. NovelliG. W. Santoni, M. Trainer, S. C. Wofsy, D. D. Parrish

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

143 Scopus citations


Methane (CH4), carbon dioxide (CO2), carbon monoxide (CO), and C2-C5 alkanes were measured throughout the Los Angeles (L.A.) basin in May and June 2010. We use these data to show that the emission ratios of CH4/CO and CH4/CO2 in the L.A. basin are larger than expected from population-apportioned bottom-up state inventories, consistent with previously published work. We use experimentally determined CH4/CO and CH4/CO2 emission ratios in combination with annual State of California CO and CO2 inventories to derive a yearly emission rate of CH4 to the L.A. basin. We further use the airborne measurements to directly derive CH4 emission rates from dairy operations in Chino, and from the two largest landfills in the L.A. basin, and show these sources are accurately represented in the California Air Resources Board greenhouse gas inventory for CH4. We then use measurements of C2-C5 alkanes to quantify the relative contribution of other CH4 sources in the L.A. basin, with results differing from those of previous studies. The atmospheric data are consistent with the majority of CH4 emissions in the region coming from fugitive losses from natural gas in pipelines and urban distribution systems and/or geologic seeps, as well as landfills and dairies. The local oil and gas industry also provides a significant source of CH4 in the area. The addition of CH4 emissions from natural gas pipelines and urban distribution systems and/or geologic seeps and from the local oil and gas industry is sufficient to account for the differences between the top-down and bottom-up CH4 inventories identified in previously published work. Key PointsTop-down estimates of CH4 emissions in L.A. are greater than inventory estimatesEstimates of CH4 emissions from landfills in L.A. agree with CARB inventoryPipeline natural gas and/or seeps, and landfills are main sources of CH4 in L.A.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)4974-4990
Number of pages17
JournalJournal of Geophysical Research: Atmospheres
Issue number10
StatePublished - May 27 2013


  • Los Angeles
  • alkanes
  • emission
  • methane

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Atmospheric Science
  • Geophysics
  • Earth and Planetary Sciences (miscellaneous)
  • Space and Planetary Science


Dive into the research topics of 'Quantifying sources of methane using light alkanes in the Los Angeles basin, California'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this