Measuring methane emissions from a UK landfill using the tracer dispersion method and the influence of operational and environmental factors

T. Rees-White, Jacob Mønster, R. P. Beaven, Charlotte Scheutz*

*Corresponding author for this work

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The methane emissions from a landfill in south-east, UK were successfully quantified during a six-day measurement campaign using the tracer dispersion method. The fair weather conditions made it necessary to perform measurements in the late afternoon and in the evening when the lower solar flux resulted in a more stable troposphere with a lower inversion layer. This caused a slower mixing of the gasses, but allowed plume measurements up to 6700 m downwind from the landfill. The average methane emission varied between 217 ± 14 and 410 ± 18 kg h−1 within the individual measurement days, but the measured emission rates were higher on the first three days (333 ± 27, 371 ± 42 and 410 ± 18 kg h−1) compared to the last three days (217 ± 14, 249 ± 20 and 263 ± 22 kg h−1). It was not possible to completely isolate the extent to which these variations were a consequence of measuring artefacts, such as wind/measurement direction and measurement distance, or from an actual change in the fugitive emission. Such emission change is known to occur with changes in the atmospheric pressure. The higher emissions measured during the first three days of the campaign were measured during a period with an overall decrease in atmospheric pressure (from approximately 1014 mbar on day 1 to 987 mbar on day 6). The lower emissions measured during the last three days of the campaign were carried out during a period with an initial pressure increase followed by a period of slowly reducing pressure. The average daily methane recovery flow varied between 633 and 679 kg h−1 at STP (1 atm, 0 °C). The methane emitted to the atmosphere accounted for approximately 31% of the total methane generated, assuming that the methane generated is the sum of the methane recovered and the methane emitted to the atmosphere, thus not including a potential methane oxidation in the landfill cover soil.
Original languageEnglish
JournalWaste Management
Pages (from-to)870-882
Publication statusPublished - 2019


  • Landfill gas
  • Municipal solid waste
  • Gas collection efficiency
  • Barometric pressure
  • Wind speed


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