Articles | Volume 9, issue 4
Atmos. Meas. Tech., 9, 1627–1636, 2016
Atmos. Meas. Tech., 9, 1627–1636, 2016

Research article 13 Apr 2016

Research article | 13 Apr 2016

The detection of carbon dioxide leaks using quasi-tomographic laser absorption spectroscopy measurements in variable wind

Zachary H. Levine1, Adam L. Pintar1, Jeremy T. Dobler2, Nathan Blume2, Michael Braun2, T. Scott Zaccheo3, and Timothy G. Pernini3 Zachary H. Levine et al.
  • 1National Institute of Standards and Technology, 100 Bureau Drive, Gaithersburg, Maryland, 20899, USA
  • 2Harris Corp., 1919 W. Cook Road, Ft. Wayne, Indiana, 46801, USA
  • 3Atmospheric and Environmental Research, 131 Hartwell Avenue, Lexington, Massachusetts, 02421, USA

Abstract. Laser absorption spectroscopy (LAS) has been used over the last several decades for the measurement of trace gasses in the atmosphere. For over a decade, LAS measurements from multiple sources and tens of retroreflectors have been combined with sparse-sample tomography methods to estimate the 2-D distribution of trace gas concentrations and underlying fluxes from point-like sources. In this work, we consider the ability of such a system to detect and estimate the position and rate of a single point leak which may arise as a failure mode for carbon dioxide storage. The leak is assumed to be at a constant rate giving rise to a plume with a concentration and distribution that depend on the wind velocity. We demonstrate the ability of our approach to detect a leak using numerical simulation and also present a preliminary measurement.

Short summary
People release great quantities of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere – enough to cause serious problems for human, animal, and plant life. Can we keep the carbon dioxide in storage underground? To make sure the storage sites do not leak, we explore a system of monitoring using lasers. We find that variable wind actually makes it easier to identify leaks against the large background concentration and other point sources because they do not shift with the wind the way the leak does.