Fossil fuels cause more methane emissions than estimated

Rodiano Bonacci
Febbraio 22, 2020

Now, before you imagine that humans are more gaseous than scientists thought, you should know that the type of methane emissions we are talking about here is not related to cigarette butts.

Tiny bubbles of historical air trapped in ice cores from Greenland recommend we have been critically overestimating the pure cycle of methane, whereas vastly undervaluing our disgusting personal influence. In samples from 1750 to 2013, they found that the levels of natural methane emissions is about 10 times lower than previously reported. When carbon dioxide can take a century to decompose in the atmosphere, methane can disappear in just 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.

The study was led by a team from University of Rochester in the USA but involved work from global scientists including researchers from Australia's Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation and the CSIRO.

In the past two centuries, the amount of methane in the atmosphere has more than doubled, though there has always been uncertainty about whether the source was biological - from agriculture, livestock or landfills - or from fossil fuels.

Contrasted with carbon dioxide, methane is brief in the environment, so stricter guidelines could sizeably affect future ozone harming substance emanations.

Despite this fact, researchers have found it hard to precisely establish the origin of these emissions; heat-trapping gases such as methane can be produced naturally, and also from human activity.

In practice this means that each year, the scientific community has been underestimating methane emissions from humans by as little as 25 percent and as high as 40 percent.

Natural gas, while less carbon-intensive than oil and coal, is driving global energy demand increases, with the International Energy Agency - a forum of 30 countries - saying global demand for gas grew 4.6 percent in 2018 alone.

The team collected ice cores from Greenland in order to establish a baseline atmospheric methane level before the onset of anthropogenic (man-made) factors. Nevertheless it does include one massive limitation: nuclear bombs and reactors put extra carbon-14 within the ambiance, messing with the research's studying of carbon-14 in methane in samples from 1945 or later (after the primary nuclear bombs have been deployed).

The amount of methane released when using natural gas via leaks in pipelines and production facilities would therefore be significantly underestimated.

But methane - the main component in natural gas and an even more effective heat-trapping gas - is a close second.

To make sense of the extent of our own effect from coal, oil and petroleum gas, it's subsequently important to realize how a lot of methane originates from wetlands and other common sinks. Scientists used a melting chamber to extract the ancient air from the tiny bubbles.

A new study argues that greenhouse gas emissions from methane, which are generated during natural gas production and agricultural processes, could be up to 40% bigger than it was previously thought.

But the authors say the findings are not all bad news. But despite the hassle of recovering so much old ice, Benjamin Hmiel and colleagues were able to determine the natural amount of methane emissions from pre-industrial times. on average around 1.6 million tons per year, at most 5.4 million tons at most.

"That's not a good look", Dr Bromley told The New Daily. It appears that what they are providing details regarding the ground isn't coordinating with what's happening in the sky.

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