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  • Here we report on the application of a new CO2 quantification and localization technique, called atmospheric tomography. The results of the study indicate that, through careful data processing, measurements from the comparatively inexpensive but lower accuracy and lower precision CO2 sensor array can provide useful data. Results from the application of the tomography technique will be presented and limitations of the technique discussed. From the 9th International Carbon Dioxide Conference, Beijing, China

  • Hourly direct normal solar exposure is the total amount of direct beam solar energy falling over one hour on a surface whose orientation is maintained perpendicular to the solar beam. Typical values for hourly direct normal exposure range up to around 3 MJ/m2 (megajoules per square metre). The values are usually highest in clear skies and decrease rapidly with increasing cloudiness, and also decrease to a lesser extent with increasing haziness and decreasing solar elevation. Global solar exposure is the total amount of solar energy falling on a horizontal surface. The daily global solar exposure is the total solar energy for a day. Typical values for daily global exposure range from 1 to 35 MJ/m2 (megajoules per square metre). For mid-latitudes, the values are usually highest in clear sun conditions during the summer and lowest during the winter or very cloudy days. See LINEAGE below for more information.

  • Geological storage of CO2 is a leading strategy for large-scale greenhouse gas emission mitigation. Monitoring and verification is important for assuring that CO2 storage poses minimal risk to people's health and the environment, and that it is effective at reducing anthropogenic CO2 emissions. Eddy Covariance (EC) has been proposed as a long-term monitoring solution for geological storage projects and is considered suitable for monitoring areas 1000 - 100,000 m2 in size. Eddy Covariance is a key micrometeorological technique which has traditionally been used for assessing ecosystem exchange of CO2 in a variety of natural and agricultural settings. It measures the vertical transfer of scalar variables such as CO2 via eddies from upwind of the instrumentation, and correlates the measured CO2 flux to the upwind source area based on several key assumptions. These assumptions include that the upwind source area is homogeneous, flat and uniform, which in turn requires that horizontal gradients in CO2 concentration are zero and that horizontal and vertical gradients in the covariance of CO2 concentration and orthogonal wind directions are zero. Work undertaken at the GA-CO2CRC Gininnderra controlled release facility, where CO2 is released from the shallow subsurface (at 2 m depth), suggests that CO2 leakage in the near subsurface will follow paths of least resistance up to the surface. Similar observations have been observed at the ZERT facility in Montana and CO2 Field Lab in Norway. This leads to CO2 leaks having localised, patchy surface expression, rather than a diffuse wide-scale leak which one typically expects (Lewicki et al. 2010). The implication of this is that the source area for a leak is highly inhomogeneous, meaning the magnitudes of CO2 flux values measured using EC are grossly unreliable. These limitations were discussed in Leuning et al.'s (2008) review on CCS atmospheric monitoring technologies yet are not addressed in much of the recent EC leak quantification literature. This presentation will present findings from the first subsurface release at the CO2CRC facility in Canberra (March - May 2012), where EC data was analysed for application in leak detection and quantification. The CO2 release rate was 144 kg/d. Eddy Covariance was successfully used to detect the leak by comparing CO2 fluxes in the direction of the leak to baseline wind sectors. Median CO2 fluxes in the leak direction were 9.1 µmol/m2/s, while the median background flux was 1.0 µmol/m2/s. Separate measurements taken using a soil flux meter found that the daytime background soil flux had a median flux of 1.8 µmol/m2/s but the peak soil flux over a leak was 1100 µmol/m2/s. Quantification and spatially locating the leak were attempted, but due to the problem of source area inhomogeneity, no substantive progress could be made. How an inhomogeneous source area contributes to 'lost' CO2 from the system, through advection and diffusion, will be discussed, coupled with suggestions for how these parameters can be evaluated in future experimental design. Leuning R., Etheridge D., Luhar A., and Dunse B., 2008. Atmospheric monitoring and verification technologies for CO2 sequestration. International Journal of Greenhouse Gas Control, 2(3), 401-414. Lewicki J. L., Hilley G. E., Dobeck L., and Spangler L., 2010. Dynamics of CO2 fluxes and concentrations during a shallow subsurface CO2 release. Environmental Earth Sciences, 60(2), 285-297.

  • Geoscience Australia and the CO2CRC operate a controlled release facility in Canberra, Australia, designed for simulating subsurface emissions of CO2 by injecting gas into a horizontal well. Three controlled release experiments were conducted at this site during 2012-2013, over 7-9 week periods, to assess and develop near-surface monitoring technologies for application to carbon dioxide geological storage sites (Feitz et al., 2014). A key well-established technique for characterizing surface CO2 emission sources from controlled release sites or natural CO2 seeps is soil flux surveys. The technique is often considered as the benchmark technique for characterizing a site's emissions or as a baseline for comparing other measurement techniques, but has received less attention with regards to its absolute performance. The extensive soil gas surveys undertaken during Release 1 (Feb-May 2012) and Release 3 (Oct-Dec 2013) are the subject of this paper. Several studies have highlighted factors which can have an effect on soil flux measurements, including meteorological influences such as air pressure and wind speed, which can increase or suppress soil fluxes (Rinaldi et al. 2012). Work at the Canberra controlled release site has highlighted the influence groundwater has on the spatial distribution of fluxes.). In addition, there are several different methods available for inverting soil flux measurements to obtain the emission rate of a surveyed area. These range in complexity from planar averaging to geostatistical methods such as sequential Gaussian simulation (Lewicki et al. 2005). Each inversion technique relies on its own subset of assumptions or limitations, which can also impact the end emissions estimate. Thus deriving a realistic estimate of the total emission rate will depend on both environmental forcing as well as the applied inversion method. An in-house method for soil flux interpolation has been developed and is presented. A cubic interpolated surface is generated from all the measurement points (Figure 1), from which a background linear interpolated surface is subtracted off, leaving the net leakage flux. The background surface is prepared by identifying all background points matching a certain criteria (for this release experiment distance from release well was used) and interpolating only over those points. In these experiments, soil flux surveys were collected on a predefined grid, using an irregular sampling pattern with higher density of samples nearer to the leak hotspots to provide higher spatial resolution in the regions where flux changes most rapidly (Figure 2). The same release rate of 144 kgCO2/day was used for both experiments. It was observed that the surface flux distribution shifts markedly between experiments, most likely a function of seasonal differences (2012 was wet; 2013 was dry) and resulting differences in groundwater depth, soil saturation and the extent of the vadose zone.. The depth to the groundwater measured at monitoring wells in proximity to the release well was 0.85-1.2 m during the 2012 (wet) release whereas it ranged from 1.9-2.3 m during the 2013 (dry) release experiment. The horizontal well is located 2.0 m below the ground surface. This paper explores the performance of soil flux surveys for providing an accurate estimate of the release rate, using a series of soil flux surveys collected across both release experiments. Emission estimates are generated by applying several common inversion methods, which are then compared to the known release rate of CO2. An evaluation as to the relative suitability of different inversion methods will be provided based on their performance. Deviations from the measured release rate are also explored with respect to survey design, meteorological and groundwater factors, which can lead and inform the future deployment of soil flux surveys in a monitoring and verification program.

  • 40 years atmospheric reanalysis for Australia region. http://www.ecmwf.int/products/data/archive/descriptions/e4/index.html

  • The world's first satellite-derived mineral maps of a continent, namely Australia, are now publicly available as digital, web-accessible products. The value of this spatially comprehensive mineral information is readily being captured by explorers at terrane to prospect scales. However, potentially even greater benefits can ensue for environmental applications, especially for the Earth's extensive drylands which generate nearly 50% of the world's agricultural production but are most at risk to climate change and poor land management. Here we show how these satellite mineral maps can be used to: characterise soil types; define the extent of deserts; fingerprint sources of dust; measure the REDOX of iron minerals as a potential marine input; and monitor the process of desertification. We propose a 'Mineral Desertification Index' that can be applied to all Earth's drylands where the agriculturally productive clay mineral component is being lost by erosion. Mineral information is fundamental to understanding geology and is important for resource applications1. Minerals are also a fundamental component of soils2 as well as dust eroded from the land surface, which can potentially impact on human health3, the marine environment4 and climate5. Importantly, minerals are well exposed in the world's 'drylands', which account for nearly 50% of Earth's land area6. Here, vegetation cover is sparse to non-existent as a result of low rainfall (P) and high evaporation (E) rates (P/E<0.65). However, drylands support 50% of the world's livestock production and almost half of all cultivated systems6. In Australia, drylands cover 85% of the continent and account for 50% of its beef, 80% of its sheep and 93% of its grain production7. Like other parts of the world, Australia is facing serious desertification of its drylands6. Wind, overgrazing and overstocking are major factors in the desertification process8. That is, the agriculturally productive clay-size fraction of soils (often includes organic carbon) is lost largely through wind erosion, which is acerbated by the loss of any vegetative groundcover (typically dry plant materials). Once clay (and carbon) loss begins, then the related break down of the soil structure and loss of its water holding capacity increases the rate of the degeneration process with the final end products being either exposed rock or quartz sands that often concentrate in deserts.

  • To determine the magnitude of severe wind gust hazard due to thunderstorm downbursts using regional climate model output and analysis of observed data (including radar reflectivity and proximity soundings).

  • There is increasing recognition that minimising methane emissions from the oil and gas sector is a key step in reducing global greenhouse gas emissions in the near term. Atmospheric monitoring techniques are likely to play an important future role in measuring the extent of existing emissions and verifying emission reductions. They can be very suitable for monitoring gas fields as they are continuous and integrate emissions from a number of potential point and diffuse sources that may vary in time. Geoscience Australia and CSIRO Marine & Atmospheric Research have collected three years of continuous methane and carbon dioxide measurements at their atmospheric composition monitoring station ('Arcturus') in the Bowen Basin, Australia. Methane signals in the Bowen Basin are likely to be influenced by cattle production, landfill, coal production, and conventional and coal seam gas (CSG) production. Australian CSG is typically 'dry' and is characterised by a mixed thermogenic-biogenic methane source with an absence of C3-C6+ alkanes. The range of '13C isotopic signatures of the CSG is similar to methane from landfill gas and cattle emissions. The absence of standard in-situ tracers for CSG fugitive emissions suggests that having a comprehensive baseline will be critical for successful measurement of fugitive emissions using atmospheric techniques. In this paper we report on the sensitivity of atmospheric techniques for the detection of fugitive emissions from a simulated new CSG field against a three year baseline signal. Simulation of emissions was performed for a 1-year period using the coupled prognostic meteorological and air pollution model TAPM at different fugitive emission rates (i.e. estimates of <1% to up to 10% of production lost) and distances (i.e. 10 - 50 km) from the station. Emissions from the simulated CSG field are based on well density, production volumes, and field size typical of CSG fields in Australia. The distributions of the perturbed and baseline signals were evaluated and statistically compared to test for the presence of fugitive methane emissions. In addition, a time series model of the methane baseline was developed in order to generate alternative realizations of the baseline signal. These were used to provide measures of both the likelihood of detecting fugitive emissions at various emission levels and of the false alarm rate. Results of the statistical analysis and an indicative minimum fugitive methane emission rate that can be detected using a single monitoring station are presented. Poster presented at the American Geophysical Union meeting, December 2013, San Francisco

  • Eddy Covariance (EC) is considered a key atmospheric technique for quantifying CO2 leakage. However the complex and localised heterogeneity of a CO2 leak above the background environmental signal violates several of the critical assumptions made when implementing the EC technique, including: - That horizontal gradients in CO2 concentration are zero. - That horizontal and vertical gradients in the covariance of CO2 and orthogonal wind directions are zero. The ability of EC measurements of CO2 flux at the surface to provide information on the location and strength of CO2 leakage from below ground stores was tested during a 144 kg/day release event (27 March - 13 June 2012) at the Ginninderra controlled release facility. We show that the direction of the leak can be ascertained with some confidence although this depends on leak strength and distance from leak. Elevated CO2 levels are seen in the direction of the leakage area, however quantifying the emissions is confounded by the potential bias within each measurement through breaching of the assumptions underpinning the EC technique. The CO2 flux due to advection of the horizontal CO2 concentration gradients, thought to be the largest component of the error with the violation of the EC technique's assumptions, has been estimated using the modelling software Windtrax. The magnitude of the CO2 flux due to advection is then compared with the measured CO2 flux measured using the EC technique, to provide an initial assessment of the suitability of the EC technique to quantifying leakage source rates.

  • Tropical cyclones are the most common disaster in the Pacific, and among the most destructive. In December 2012, Cyclone Evan caused over US$200 million damage in Samoa, nearly 30 percent of Samoan GDP. Niue suffered losses of US$85 million following Cyclone Heta in 2004-over five times its GDP. As recently as January 2014, Cyclone Ian caused significant damage throughout Tonga, resulting in the first payout of the Pacific Catastrophe Risk Insurance Pilot system operated by the World Bank (2014). According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), intense tropical cyclone activity in the Pacific basin will likely increase in the future (IPCC 2013). But such general statements about global tropical cyclone activity provide little guidance on how impacts may change locally or even regionally, and thus do little to help communities and nations prepare appropriate adaptation measures. This study assesses climate change in terms of impact on the human population and its assets, expressed in terms of financial loss. An impact focus is relevant to adaptation because changes in hazard do not necessarily result in a proportional change in impact. This is because impacts are driven by exposure and vulnerability as well as by hazard. For example, a small shift in hazard in a densely populated area may have more significant consequences than a bigger change in an unpopulated area. Analogously, a dense population that has a low vulnerability to a particular hazard might not need to adapt significantly to a change in hazard. Even in regions with high tropical cyclone risk and correspondingly stringent building codes, such as the state of Florida, a modest 1 percent increase in wind speeds can result in a 5 percent to 10 percent increase in loss to residential property. Quantifying the change impact thus supports evidence-based decision making on adaptation to future climate risk.