Articles | Volume 15, issue 24
Research article
21 Dec 2015
Research article |  | 21 Dec 2015

Validation of farm-scale methane emissions using nocturnal boundary layer budgets

J. Stieger, I. Bamberger, N. Buchmann, and W. Eugster

Abstract. This study provides the first experimental validation of Swiss agricultural methane emission estimates at the farm scale. We measured CH4 concentrations at a Swiss farmstead during two intensive field campaigns in August 2011 and July 2012 to (1) quantify the source strength of livestock methane emissions using a tethered balloon system and (2) to validate inventory emission estimates via nocturnal boundary layer (NBL) budgets. Field measurements were performed at a distance of 150 m from the nearest farm buildings with a tethered balloon system in combination with gradient measurements at eight heights on a 10 m tower to better resolve the near-surface concentrations. Vertical profiles of air temperature, relative humidity, CH4 concentration, wind speed, and wind direction showed that the NBL was strongly influenced by local transport processes and by the valley wind system. Methane concentrations showed a pronounced time course, with highest concentrations in the second half of the night. NBL budget flux estimates were obtained via a time–space kriging approach. Main uncertainties of NBL budget flux estimates were associated with nonstationary atmospheric conditions and the estimate of the inversion height zi (top of volume integration). The mean NBL budget fluxes of 1.60 ± 0.31 μg CH4 m-2 s-1 (1.40 ± 0.50 and 1.66 ± 0.20 μg CH4 m-2 s-1 in 2011 and 2012 respectively) were in good agreement with local inventory estimates based on current livestock number and default emission factors, with 1.29 ± 0.47 and 1.74 ± 0.63 μg CH4 m-2 s-1 for 2011 and 2012 respectively. This indicates that emission factors used for the national inventory reports are adequate, and we conclude that the NBL budget approach is a useful tool to validate emission inventory estimates.

Short summary
At night, concentrations of methane and other trace gases in the near-surface atmosphere increase due to limited turbulent mixing and confluence of cold air from valley slopes towards the valley bottom. Here we used a tethered balloon sounding system to obtain time-height profiles of methane concentrations from which we compute methane emissions. These flux estimates serve as the first experimental validation of Swiss agricultural methane emissions at the farm scale.
Final-revised paper