Measuring Atmospheric Pollutant Emissions, Mixing, and Deposition in the Athabasca Oil Sands Region
The extraction and processing of oil sands in the Athabasca region of northern Alberta releases more than 45 kt (Kilotonnes) of SO2 and 95 kt of particulate matter into the atmosphere every year. The region is fertile ground for the study of: atmospheric pollutant emission measurement techniques; pollutant mixing processes; and source determination methods. This talk will overview a number of studies in this region related to the emissions of atmospheric pollutants, mixing of pollutants into the surrounding environment, and deposition of pollutants into the boreal forest. The Top-Down Emission Rate Retrieval Algorithm (TERRA) calculates emissions from the production facilities using aircraft-based measurements. Model simulations improve TERRA and optimize flight patterns for future campaigns. Aircraft measurements assess model predictions of smoke-stack plume-rise, demonstrating a significant model underestimation of plume rise height. Image analysis algorithms automatically determine plume-rise height from continuous video recordings of facility smoke stacks. The York Athabasca Jack Pine (YAJP) 33m-tall instrumented tower is situated in a forested region surrounded by oil sands facilities. The YAJP tower measures energy balance and CO2 and moisture fluxes throughout the year (and will soon be outfitted with instrumentation to measure ozone). Two intensive summer field studies at the YAJP measured aerosol mixing and deposition, and ozone and SO2 profiles in the lower atmosphere. All of these topics will be discussed in the context of improving the methods that are used to quantify sustainability.