Methane is a powerful greenhouse gas, which traps 86 times more heat in the atmosphere than carbon dioxide (CO2). It is also the primary contributor to the formation of ground-level ozone. How can methane emissions be better controlled to lower environmental issues? Read more.
Methane is associated with some toxic pollutants such as benzene, formaldehyde, and ethylbenzene.
Besides being hazardous to the environment, methane can cause health problems for people, especially those who work directly in oil and gas operations.
A new study has found that fossil fuel companies deliberately leak or vent about 13 million metric tons of methane/year into the atmosphere. According to Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), this is 60% more than the CO2 emissions.
The more cuts of methane emissions, the less drastic climate changes
In order to be more precise, satellites became a good choice to monitor methane leaks worldwide with more reliability.
Satellite monitoring allows a wider and safer detection of methane leaks, despite its high cost.
On the other hand, there is a cheaper way to detect methane leaks which are the Government satellites.
The issue of public satellites is that they can only detect methane large plumes because they have a low spatial resolution which means a not reliable job.
Therefore, so far the most reliable choice is to hire the private sector. GHGSat is a company that sells satellite measurements of methane emissions to customers, particularly from the oil and gas industry.
The high cost however makes industries postpone such kinds of undertakings. What can be done to avoid this issue after all?
Nonetheless, new ideas are popping up to avoid that high dependence on private satellites.
For example, the Carbon Mapper is a satellite-based company that has just joined the public-private partnership. The schedule is to launch two monitoring satellites in early 2023 and by 2025, ten more satellites.
Satellite data collected will allow the plant operator to target the right regions of an oil field with sensors on the ground to promptly find and fix the problem right away.
There are cheaper ways for detecting methane saturation as well!
Prompt replacements of damaged equipment will allow up-to-date repairing leaks in pipelines.
Climate changes can cause strange weather worldwide (pretty much different than old times when climates were less unstable) such as:
droughts in periods that should be rainy
heat in winter
cold in summer
sudden forest fires
unprecedented record-breaking storms.
an exodus of animals from their natural habitats.
unprecedented sea-level rise (3mm each year) as temperatures rise and glaciers melt.
Natural methane sources
Some methane emissions come from wetlands - like on the bottom of the ocean - where bacteria feed of organic carbon then release it.
The not only fossil fuel industry is responsible for methane emission, but the agriculture as well as the waste on the landfills.
Around 60% of methane emissions come from human and animal sources. It may sound funny, but cattle's burps and farts are greatly responsible for methane emissions!
Euan Nisbet, a scientist at Royal Holloway, University of London, calls cattle and other ruminants "walking swamps" because the bacteria that live in their guts produce methane as they digest food.
There's a simple solution to reduce animal emissions researchers suggest to farmers: “Just change their cattle feed!”
An additive called Bovaer® reduces methane emissions in agriculture!
This additive can suppress an animal's enzyme that activates methane production. With a quarter teaspoon of "Bovaer" daily when feeding cows and other ruminants such as sheep and goats, it is possible to lower their methane emissions.
It means an immediate reduction in the carbon footprint of meat, milk, and dairy products. If the use of the additive stops, the methane production resumes. However, there are no lasting effects on the animal’s body for something lighter and out of standards.
Methane emissions in the Arctic Ocean are also of concern to environmentalists worldwide!
Beneath the cold, dark depths of the Arctic Ocean lie huge reserves of methane.
These reserves rest in a delicate, stable equilibrium in a solid called methane hydrate and it depends on very specific pressures and temperatures. If this very balance is altered, methane can be released into the water above and eventually reach the atmosphere.