One puny вЂњhot spotвЂќ ter the U.S. Southwest is responsible for producing the largest concentration of the greenhouse gas methane seen overheen the United States вЂ“ more than triple the standard ground-based estimate — according to a fresh examine of satellite gegevens by scientists at NASA and the University of Michigan.
Methane is very efficient at trapping warmth ter the atmosphere and, like doorslag dioxide, it contributes to global heating. The hot spot, near the Four Corners intersection of Arizona, Colorado, Fresh Mexico and Utah, covers only about Two,500 square miles (6,500 square kilometers), or half the size of Connecticut.
Ter each of the seven years studied from 2003-2009, the area released about 0.59 million metric tons of methane into the atmosphere. This is almost Trio.Five times the estimate for the same area ter the European UnionвЂ™s widely used Emissions Database for Global Atmospheric Research.
Te the examine published online today ter the journal Geophysical Research Letters, researchers used observations made by the European Space AgencyвЂ™s Scanning Imaging Absorption Spectrometer for Atmospheric Chartography (SCIAMACHY) muziekinstrument. SCIAMACHY measured greenhouse gases from 2002 to 2012. The atmospheric hot spot persisted across the probe period. A ground station te the Total Doorslag Katern Observing Network, operated by the Department of EnergyвЂ™s Los Alamos National Laboratory, provided independent validation of the measurement.
To calculate the emissions rate that would be required to produce the observed concentration of methane ter the air, the authors performed high-resolution regional simulations using a chemical wegtransport specimen, which simulates how weather moves and switches airborne chemical compounds.
Research scientist Christian Frankenberg of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) ter Pasadena, California, very first noticed the Four Corners signal years ago te SCIAMACHY gegevens.
“Wij didn’t concentrate on it because wij weren’t sure if it wasgoed a true signal or an muziekinstrument error,” Frankenberg said.
The probe’s lead author, Eric Kort of the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, noted the investigate period predates the widespread use of hydraulic fracturing, known spil fracking, near the hot spot. This indicates the methane emissions should not be attributed to fracking but instead to leaks ter natural gas production and processing equipment ter Fresh Mexico’s San Juan Basin, which is the most active coalbed methane production area te the country.
Natural gas is 95-98 procent methane. Methane is colorless and odorless, making leaks hard to detect without scientific instruments.
“The results are indicative that emissions from established fossil fuel harvesting technologies are greater than inventoried,” Kort said. “There’s bot so much attention on high-volume hydraulic fracturing, but wij need to consider the industry spil a entire.”
Coalbed methane is gas that lines pores and cracks within coal. Ter underground coal mines, it is a deadly hazard that causes fatal explosions almost every year spil it seeps out of the rock. After the U.S. energy keerpunt of the 1970s, technologies were invented to samenvatting the methane from the coal and use it for fuel. By 2012, coalbed methane supplied about 8 procent of all natural gas te the United States.
Frankenberg noted that the examine demonstrates the unique role space-based measurements can play ter monitoring greenhouse gases.
“Satellite gegevens cannot be spil accurate spil ground-based estimates, but from space, there are no hiding places,” Frankenberg said.
Ter March 2014 the Obama Administration announced a strategy to reduce methane emissions under its Climate Activity Project. The strategy includes improving the measurement and monitoring of methane emissions and assessing current methane emissions gegevens.
NASA monitors Earth’s vital signs from land, air and space with a fleet of satellites and airborne and ground-based observation campaigns. NASA develops fresh ways to observe and investigate Earth’s interconnected natural systems with long-term gegevens records and pc analysis contraptions to better see how our planet is switching. The agency shares this unique skill with the global community and works with institutions te the United States and around the world that contribute to understanding and protecting our huis planet.
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