Published: Sat, February 22, 2020
Sci-tech | By Patricia Wade

New concerns over methane emission levels

New concerns over methane emission levels

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.

Scientists are able to accurately quantify the total amount of methane emitted to the atmosphere each year, but it is hard to break down this total into its individual components: Which portions originate from fossil sources and which are biological?

Phillip Williamson, honorary reader at the University of East Anglia, who was not involved in the study, said: "These results indicate that human activities are inadvertently responsible for much more of the problem of rising methane".

The study published on Thursday in the journal Science showed that even if methane is released from these large natural stores in response to warming, very little actually reaches the atmosphere.

Dave Reay, the executive director of the Edinburgh Centre for Carbon Innovation, said one of the key messages from the study was that the old bottom-up method of measuring methane emissions was "woefully inadequate". Scientists say that atmospheric methane is now responsible for about 25 percent of the human-caused warming we see today.

"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". Methane emissions from oil, gasoline, and coal actions are likely to systematically be underestimated, he says, partly as a result of they usually use averages for emissions and don't keep in mind failures or different errors that result in unintentional leaks. A study in 2018, for example, found methane emissions from oil and natural gas were 60 percent higher than those reported by the US Environmental Protection Agency. Methane is stronger than carbon dioxide, so slashing it from our world greenhouse gasoline emissions can have an outsized impact. Getting the samples took a lot of ice: Dyonisius and his colleagues drilled 11 tons from Antarctica's Taylor Glacier.

They discovered that investigators have been largely underestimating the amount of methane that is emitted by humans into the air through fossil fuels. A single blowout at a pure gas nicely in OH in 2018 discharged extra methane over three weeks than the oil and gas industries of France, Norway and the Netherlands launched in a complete 12 months.

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Methane emitted into the atmosphere can be sorted into two categories-fossil or biological-based on its signature of the isotope carbon-14. The ice core samples act like time capsules: they contain tiny air bubbles with small quantities of ancient air trapped inside.

Announcing the project, Prime Minister Scott Morrison said: "There is no credible plan to lower emissions and keep electricity prices down that does not involve the greater use of gas as an important transition fuel".

Considering the total fossil emissions quantified in the air now, Hmiel and his collaborators inferred that the artificial fossil component is more than anticipated-25% to 40% higher was discovered by the team. This allowed scientists to establish a pre-industrial level for natural methane emissions.

The good news, Rogelj said, was that measures to prevent leaks, reduce flaring and switch to renewables would be more effective than expected. "If we can reduce our emissions, it's going to have more of an impact", he added.

For a more accurate comparison, a team at the University of Rochester in the U.S. examined levels of methane in the pre-industrial era about 300 years ago.

Both factors mean methane emissions reductions would have immediate effects on the trajectory of climate change.

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