Local-to-regional methane emissions from the Upper Silesian Coal Basin (USCB) quantified using UAV-based atmospheric measurements

Truls Andersen, Zhao Zhao, Marcel De Vries, Jaroslaw Necki, Justyna Swolkien, Malika Menoud, Thomas Röckmann, Anke Roiger, Andreas Fix, Wouter Peters, Huilin Chen*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)


Coal mining accounts for ~12% of the total anthropogenic methane (CH4) emissions worldwide. The Upper Silesian Coal Basin (USCB), Poland, where large quantities of CH4 are emitted to the atmosphere via ventilation shafts of underground hard coal (anthracite) mines, is one of the hot spots of methane emissions in Europe. However, coal bed CH4 emissions into the atmosphere are poorly characterized. As part of the carbon dioxide and CH4 mission 1.0 (CoMet 1.0) that took place in May-June 2018, we flew a recently developed active AirCore system aboard an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) to obtain CH4 and CO2 mole fractions 150-300m downwind of five individual ventilation shafts in the USCB. In addition, we also measured δ13C-CH4, δ2H-CH4, ambient temperature, pressure, relative humidity, surface wind speed, and surface wind direction. We used 34 UAV flights and two different approaches (inverse Gaussian approach and mass balance approach) to quantify the emissions from individual shafts. The quantified emissions were compared to both annual and hourly inventory data and were used to derive the estimates of CH4 emissions in the USCB. We found a high correlation (R2Combining double low line0.7-0.9) between the quantified and hourly inventory data-based shaft-averaged CH4 emissions, which in principle would allow regional estimates of CH4 emissions to be derived by upscaling individual hourly inventory data of all shafts. Currently, such inventory data is available only for the five shafts we quantified. As an alternative, we have developed three upscaling approaches, i.e., by scaling the European Pollutant Release and Transfer Register (E-PRTR) annual inventory, the quantified shaft-averaged emission rate, and the shaft-averaged emission rate, which are derived from the hourly emission inventory. These estimates are in the range of 256-383ktCH4yr-1 for the inverse Gaussian (IG) approach and 228-339ktCH4yr-1 for the mass balance (MB) approach. We have also estimated the total CO2 emissions from coal mining ventilation shafts based on the observed ratio of CH4/CO2 and found that the estimated regional CO2 emissions are not a major source of CO2 in the USCB. This study shows that the UAV-based active AirCore system can be a useful tool to quantify local to regional point source methane emissions.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)5191-5216
Number of pages26
JournalAtmospheric Chemistry and Physics
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - 8 May 2023


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