Skip to main content
Presentation
The Use of Data from the Orbiting Carbon Observatory to Measure Greenhouse Gas Emissions from Landfills
Proceedings of the 103rd Annual Meeting and Exhibition of the Air and Waste Management Association (2010)
  • Samuel A. Vigil
  • David Crisp
Abstract
Landfill gas, typically composed of approximately 50% CO2 and 50% CH4, is emitted from the
surface of landfills. Landfill gas wells and control systems collect most of the gas for combustion
in flares or engines. However, some of the landfill gas escapes from the surface. Currently,
precise atmospheric measurements of greenhouse gases are being made from a global network of
over a hundred ground-based sites. This network monitors greenhouse gas trends on hemispheric
to global scales, but does not have the spatial resolution or coverage needed to detect and
quantify emission sources on smaller scales. One way to address this need is to measure these
gases from space. The Orbiting Carbon Observatory (OCO) was the first NASA satellite
designed to measure CO2 from space with the precision, resolution, and coverage needed to
detect CO2 surface fluxes. OCO was designed to collect 0.5 to 1 million soundings each day.
Typical measurements over land were expected to have precisions of 0.25% within surface
footprints less than 3 square km. This project suffered a major setback in February 2009 when
the OCO launch vehicle failed to achieve orbit and the satellite was lost. Congress has since
authorized a restart of the OCO project, and the President’s 2010 budget proposal includes
funding to produce a “carbon copy” of OCO that could be ready for launch by February 2013.
The accuracy and small footprint of OCO measurements offers a unique opportunity to measure
CO2 emissions from landfills. For example the Puente Hills Landfill, one of the largest landfills
in California, has a footprint of 2.3 km by 1.5 km. There are other similar large landfills in the
U.S. and in the growing megacities of developing nations. CO2 measurements by OCO could
contribute to better management strategies for the control of greenhouse gas emissions from landfills.
Keywords
  • landfill gas,
  • carbon dioxide,
  • satellite retrievals,
  • orbiting carbon observatory
Disciplines
Publication Date
Summer June 22, 2010
Location
Calgary, Alberta, Canada
Citation Information
Samuel A. Vigil and David Crisp. "The Use of Data from the Orbiting Carbon Observatory to Measure Greenhouse Gas Emissions from Landfills" Proceedings of the 103rd Annual Meeting and Exhibition of the Air and Waste Management Association (2010)
Available at: http://works.bepress.com/svigil/36/