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Atmospheric monitoring tools can identify and quantify possible releases of CO2 to the atmosphere from underground storage reservoirs. Such monitoring increases the potential success of future CO2 storage projects and provides assurance that CO2 is remaining in the subsurface. A reliable aboveground monitoring system can detect elevated levels of atmospheric CO2 that could have been released from wellbores, faults, or other pathways. These monitoring tools can also indicate high concentrations of CO2 in low-lying areas and in manmade structures.

The three most common atmospheric monitoring techniques are:

  1. the use of optical CO2 sensors for atmospheric detection,
  2. tracking of atmospheric tracers, and
  3. eddy covariance flux measurement techniques.

In addition, a number of remote sensing techniques can be used to monitor CO2 storage projects.1National Energy Technology Lab. (n.d.). Atmospheric Monitoring. U.S. National Energy Technology Laboratory. Retrieved July 1, 2021, from