Humans are releasing way more methane than we thought

Katie Ramirez
February 22, 2020

Emissions from fossil fuel production of the potent greenhouse gas methane is 25 to 40 percent higher than previously understood, researchers reported on Wednesday, shining a harsh spotlight on the global gas industry. Though researchers can tell fossil methanes apart from other methane sources, like cattle and wetlands, they can't distinguish natural fossil release from extract-and-burn methane release.

Methane is an "imperceptible atmosphere threat" - around multiple times more powerful as a warmth trapper than carbon dioxide - and keeping in mind that a portion of this climatic gas is delivered normally, new research shows people are liable for undeniably a greater amount of it than we suspected as of recently. Carbon dioxide can remain in the atmosphere for roughly a century, whereas methane is gone within nine years.

"I don't want to get too hopeless on this because my data does have a positive implication: most of the methane emissions are anthropogenic, so we have more control", says University of Rochester geochemist Benjamin Hmiel.

"We knew fossil fuel extraction - including fracking - was a major part of global methane emissions, but this impressive study suggests it is a far bigger culprit in human-induced climate change than we had ever thought".

The study was led by a team from University of Rochester in the United States but involved work from worldwide scientists including researchers from Australia's Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation and the CSIRO. Fossilized methane, the kind trapped in ancient hydrocarbon deposits and released by human activities, is without carbon-14, a rare radioactive isotope. The Global Carbon Project, an worldwide research collaboration that Jackson chairs, is finishing up its own review of the Earth's methane budget, expected this spring. However, this isotope analysis can not distinguish between methane from leaks in natural gas pipelines and the same old gas that comes from natural sources.

To similar results, h at the most 15, 4 million tons of natural methane emissions per year came already 2017 a research group around Vasili Petrenko, the ice cream from about before 12.

The new work widens a debate that stems from two opposing methods researchers use to measure methane: ice-core research and local monitoring of methane sources.

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Methane, which comes from both natural and manmade sources, is responsible for 16 percent.

In a second study, the same team harvested ice from Greenland to estimate how much modern atmospheric methane comes from leaks in extraction operations and pipelines, versus natural geologic seeps from the earth. If the methane in permafrost forms deep enough in the soil, it may be oxidized by bacteria that eat the methane, according to the study. Ice traps air bubbles - tiny pockets of whatever the atmosphere was at that time, Hmiel says. "If we can reduce our emissions, it's going to have more of an impact", he added. "This is worrying and overall bad news", said Dr Joeri Rogelj, a climate change lecturer at the Grantham Institute.

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This strengthens suspicions that fossil gas firms usually are not absolutely accounting for his or her impact on the climate, significantly with regard to methane - a colourless, odourless gas that many crops routinely vent into the environment.

Researchers from the Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences of the University of Rochester have carried out field studies in Earth's oceans, the Great Lakes, Greenland, and Antarctica.

"When you look at what we need to do to meet the Paris target, we can not open any more fossil fuels for domestic or for export purposes".

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