EGU General Assembly 2020
© Author(s) 2020. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Quantification of methane emissions from waste water treatment plants

Marcel Bühler1,2,3, Christoph Häni3, Thomas Kupper3, Christof Ammann4, and Stefan Brönnimann1,2
Marcel Bühler et al.
  • 1Oeschger Centre for Climate Change Research (OCCR), University of Bern, Bern, Switzerland (
  • 2Institute of Geography, University of Bern, Bern, Switzerland
  • 3School of Agricultural, Forest and Food Sciences (HAFL), Bern University of Applied Sciences, Bern, Switzerland
  • 4Climate and Agriculture Group, Agroscope, Zürich, Switzerland

Quantification of gaseous emissions from waste water treatment plants (WWTPs) is challenging due to the heterogeneity of the emissions in space and time. The inverse dispersion method (IDM) using concentration and turbulence measurements in combination with a backward Lagrangian stochastic (bLS) dispersion model based on Flesch et al. (2004) is a promising option. It is  increasingly used to determine gaseous emissions from confined sources (Flesch et al., 2009; VanderZaag et al., 2014), as it offers high flexibility at reasonable costs. For the application on WWTPs the bLS model assumption of spatially homogeneous turbulence, which implies absence of obstacles as buildings and trees that disturbe the flow, is often not fulfilled. However, studies showed that with the correct instrument setup and data filtering the bLS can be used for emission estimates. Methane emissions from two WWTPs of different type and size were quantified using the IDM with the bLS model. Methane concentrations were analysed with open-path tunable diode laser spectrometers (GasFinder, Boreal Laser, Inc., Edmonton, Alberta, Canada) placed up- and downwind of the source. At each site at least 20 days of measurements averaged to 30-minutes intervals are available. Here we present first results from these two WWTPs emission estimates.



Flesch, T. K., Wilson, J. D., Harper, L. A., Crenna, B. P., and Sharpe, R. R.: Deducing ground-to-air emissions from observed trace gas concentrations:
A field trial, J. Appl. Meteorol., 43, 487–502, doi:10.1175/1520-0450(2004)043<0487:DGEFOT>2.0.CO;2, 2004.

Flesch, T. K., Harper, L. A., Powell, J. M., and Wilson, J. D.: Inverse-dispersion calculation of ammonia emissions from Wisconsin dairy farms, Trans. ASABE, 52, 253–265, doi:10.13031/2013.25946, 2009.

VanderZaag, A. C., Flesch, T. K., Desjardins, R. L., Baldé, H., and Wright, T.: Measuring methane emissions from two dairy farms: Seasonal and manure-management effects, Agricultural and Forest Meteorology, 194, 259–267, doi:10.1016/j.agrformet.2014.02.003, 2014.

How to cite: Bühler, M., Häni, C., Kupper, T., Ammann, C., and Brönnimann, S.: Quantification of methane emissions from waste water treatment plants, EGU General Assembly 2020, Online, 4–8 May 2020, EGU2020-13389,, 2020


Display file