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Dr. Gunnar W. Schade
Gunnar W. Schade
(979) 845-0633
(979) 862-4466
Eller O&M 1104A
Texas A&M University
O&M Building, Room 1104A
Department of Atmospheric Sciences
MS 3150
College Station, Texas 77843


Dr. rer. nat. Chemistry, Johannes Gutenberg University, Mainz, Germany, 1997

Gunnar W. Schade

Associate Professor

Research Interests

My main research interests lie in the measurement and interpretation of atmospheric trace gases, especially as related to their natural and anthropogenic sources. My focus has shifted in recent years to the large new sources of hydrocarbons and NOx in shale areas, with an eye on Texas.

The rapid exploitation of hydrocarbon resources in US shales has led to a renewed boom in the oil and gas industry. Venting and flaring of gas, as well as numerous production-based (design) leaks alongside fugitive (unintended) emissions of methane and higher hydrocarbons are affecting air quality in these areas. We have analyzed existing air quality monitoring station data from Texas, but have also carried out our own study in the western Eagle Ford Shale. We are currently involved in field measurements in the Permian Basin in and around Pecos, TX, collecting the first long-term measurements of selected atmospheric hydrocarbons in an area with rapidly developing oil and gas production, but no air quality monitoring.

In the past I have studied the roles that various trace gases play in biogeochemical cycling and atmospheric chemistry, investigating their sources, sinks, and transformations in the atmosphere, as well as their interplay, both in the laboratory and the field. In nature, both physical and biological conditions can be a major drivers of trace gas exchanges. My research involved the study of these processes under current conditions, the improvement of existing and the development of improved models that describe the exchange process(es) as accurately as possible, and the study of physical and chemical feedback mechanisms between the biosphere and the atmosphere. An example for the latter is the partial control of the atmosphere's oxidative capacity through biospheric volatile organic compound (BVOC) emissions, such as isoprene.

We studied these BVOC emissions and other exchanges under both laboratory and field conditions. My previous field-based studies included a tower platform in California and a conventionally managed agricultural field plot in Germany.  We are using both 'classic' enclosure techniques and several micrometeorological techniques to measure trace gas exchanges between emitters at the surface and the atmosphere. For trace gas analysis, we use established infrared or UV absorption analyzers, both gas chromatographic and mass spectrometric techniques, but also specialized systems to target a specific trace gas, such as our past methanol/formaldehyde instrument.

Our main project until 2013 was the measurement of energy and trace gas fluxes in an urban area (click the link to that project on the right-hand side of the screen), in which we focused on both anthropogenic and biogenic fluxes. We ran an extensive flux site in Houston from summer 2007 to spring 2013, and there are still data to be analyzed and published.

We were also funded a new investigator award by NSF in 2010. In that project we measured leaf physiology and BVOC emissions from oak tree species in the Houston area. Our hypothesis revolves around using the urban climate as a proxy for climate change effects on photosynthesis and isoprene emissions, based on the findings that urban areas - on average - are warmer, exert more water stress on plants, and have higher CO2 concentrations than the surrounding countryside.



Selected Publications

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