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Wed Aug 14, 2019, 09:12 AM

New study: Fracking prompts global spike in atmospheric methane

Eureka/American Association for the Advancement of Science
NEWS RELEASE 14-AUG-2019

New study: Fracking prompts global spike in atmospheric methane
EUROPEAN GEOSCIENCES UNION

As methane concentrations increase in the Earth's atmosphere, chemical fingerprints point to a probable source: shale oil and gas, according to new Cornell University research published today (14 August) in Biogeosciences, a journal of the European Geosciences Union. The research suggests that this methane has less carbon-13 relative to carbon-12 (denoting the weight of the carbon atom at the centre of the methane molecule) than does methane from conventional natural gas and other fossil fuels such as coal.

...While atmospheric methane concentrations have been rising since 2008, the carbon composition of the methane has also changed. Methane from biological sources such as cows and wetlands have a low carbon-13 content - compared to methane from most fossil fuels. Previous studies erroneously concluded that biological sources are the cause of the rising methane, Howarth said.

Carbon dioxide and methane are critical greenhouse gases, but they behave quite differently in the atmosphere. Carbon dioxide emitted today will influence the climate for centuries to come, as the climate responds slowly to decreasing amounts of the gas.

Unlike its slow response to carbon dioxide, the atmosphere responds quickly to changes in methane emissions. "Reducing methane now can provide an instant way to slow global warming and meet the United Nations' target of keeping the planet well below a 2-degree Celsius average rise," Howarth said, referring to the 2015 Paris Agreement that boosts the global response to climate change threats.


More here (short article)
https://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2019-08/egu-nsf081219.php

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