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New Dairy Study Finds Legacy Emissions Are Important: BRI Fields a New Mobile, Air Quality Lab in a Car


New Dairy Study Finds Legacy Emissions Are Important: BRI Fields a New Mobile, Air Quality Lab in a Car

PR Newswire

Santa Barbara, Calif., Aug. 2, 2018 /PRNewswire/ -- Animal husbandry produces the potent greenhouse gas, methane, and the important trace gas, ammonia. However, emission estimates vary widely with few real world studies. Underlying this variability are differing husbandry practices within dairies, between dairies, and between regions. New tools are needed. In a recent NASA supported study, Bubbleology Research International (BRI) led a team that combined remote sensing with advanced mobile analyzers. Findings were published in the journal Environmental Pollution.

"We designed a holistic experiment to characterize emissions including source identification by using multiple gases for fingerprinting," said Dr. Ira Leifer, BRI CEO and chief scientist. "We acquired and analyzed data from satellite, airborne remote sensing, mobile surface in situ, and mobile surface remote sensing."

The experiment leveraged remote sensing of ammonia by the hyperspectral remote sensing imager, Mako to make maps of ammonia. Ammonia is important to health, wetlands, and climate.

"Emissions validation was a primary campaign goal. We succeeded in getting 95% agreement between MISTIR and AMOG based on the best model," said Dr. David Tratt, the lead Aerospace Corp., scientist. MISTIR is an upward looking remote sensing instrument that measures column gases like ammonia and methane while driving. MISTIR cannot miss plumes even if they pass overhead.

The study looked at the Chino Dairies of San Bernardino County, currently ~45,000 cows on ~63 small dairies, surrounded by the densely populated Los Angeles Basin. Chino dairy herd density is amongst the highest in the US.

In recent decades, many dairies were converted to suburban communities. This led to an important discovery - diffuse plumes arising from housing developments to the southeast of Chino but not to the northwest. The key difference is that several decades ago, communities to Chino's southeast were dairies, while those to the northwest never were. This helped explain ammonia data from the European IASI satellite, which showed a summer-winter difference of a factor of ten.

"It was very puzzling. The winter-summer difference is much larger than expected; however, it makes sense if it reflects legacy emissions, which are not currently considered." Leifer said. Legacy emissions means that today's dairy emissions are not only from the number of cows today and their waste, but also what happened in prior years and even decades.

"Our research intends to find the best practices for dairymen to improve the environment while producing high quality products," said Professor Tryg Lundquist, a husbandry scientist at the California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo, California.

Satellite data played a critical role in the study, it was the annual cycle revealed in IASI ammonia data that raised the question about legacy emissions. "Satellites provide long-term continuous observations over years that are key to understanding seasonal processes," said Dr. Lieven Clarisse of the University Libre de Bruxelles, Belgium.

Additional satellite data are being collected for the study by the Japanese Space Agency (JAXA) satellite, GOSAT. "GOSAT has been targeting Chino husbandry for more than three years. Combining the surface, airborne, and satellite column methane provides accurate and seamless flux information from the surface to the top of atmosphere," said Dr. Akihiko Kuze, a JAXA scientist.

----BRI is a technology development / environmental consulting company

For more information about this topic, please call Ira Leifer at 805-683-3333 or email


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SOURCE Bubbleology Research International

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