Forum für Wissenschaft, Industrie und Wirtschaft

Hauptsponsoren:     3M 
Datenbankrecherche:

 

UC Santa Barbara scientist studies methane levels in cross-continent drive

16.05.2013
After taking a rented camper outfitted with special equipment to measure methane on a cross-continent drive, a UC Santa Barbara scientist has found that methane emissions across large parts of the U.S. are higher than currently known, confirming what other more local studies have found. Their research is published in the journal Atmospheric Environment.

Methane is a potent greenhouse gas, stronger than carbon dioxide on a 20-year timescale, according to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, though on a century timescale, carbon dioxide is far stronger. "This research suggests significant benefits to slowing climate change could result from reducing industrial methane emissions in parallel with efforts on carbon dioxide," said Ira Leifer, a researcher with UCSB's Marine Science Institute.


This image shows cross-country data superimposed over satellite data from SCIAMACHY and from GOSAT. Satellite data shows positive methane anomalies for the southern US are centered on eastern Texas.

Credit: UCSB

Leifer was joined by two UCSB undergraduate students on the road trip from Los Angeles to Florida, taking a primarily southern route through Arizona, New Mexico, Texas, Louisiana, and along the Gulf of Mexico. They used specialized instrumentation, a gas chromatograph, to measure methane. The device was mounted in the RV, with an air ram on the roof that collected air samples from in front of the vehicle.

"We tried to pass through urban areas during nighttime hours, to avoid being stuck in traffic and sampling mostly exhaust fumes," Leifer said. "Someone was always monitoring the chromatograph, and when we would see a strong signal, we would look to see what potential sources were in the area, and modify the survey to investigate and, if possible, circumnavigate potential sources."

The researchers meandered slowly through areas of fossil fuel activity, such as petroleum and natural gas production, refining, and distribution areas, and other areas of interest. The wide range of sources studied included a coal-loading terminal, a wildfire, and wetlands.

The team analyzed the data in conjunction with researchers at the University of Bremen, Germany, who analyzed inventories and satellite data from the Scanning Imaging Absorption Spectrometer for Atmospheric Chartography (SCIAMACHY) instrument onboard the European Space Agency's (ESA) ENVISAT satellite to confirm the finding of strong methane sources in regions of fossil fuel activity. The surface measurements found methane levels increased as the researchers moved toward Houston, and then decreased as they continued westward –– the same trend observed in satellite data spanning the continent.

Previous methane studies have focused primarily on large-scale airborne data, which were challenging to separate from local sources, according to Leifer. In fact, clear identification of individual sources often could not be conducted, requiring computer models and other surface measurements.

The team compared maps of estimated methane emissions based on data from the International Energy Agency of the U.S. Department of Energy with satellite methane maps. They found that, in some cases, to explain observed higher methane concentrations required higher emissions than current emission maps present, particularly in large regions of fossil fuel industrial activity. In other cases, though, they could rule out that wetlands such as swamps may have been important. In such cases, separating wetland methane contributions from fossil fuel industrial contributions was not possible with their approach, Leifer said, "This is a topic we are investigating further through new research," he added.

"Methane is the strongest human greenhouse gas on a political or short timescale, and also has more bang for the buck in terms of addressing climate change," said Leifer. "This research supports other recent findings suggesting that fugitive emissions from fossil fuel industrial activity actually are the largest methane source. This clearly indicates a need for efforts to focus on reducing these methane emissions."

The researchers found the highest methane concentrations in areas with significant refinery activity, and in California in a Central Valley region of oil and gas production. Methane levels near refineries were not uniform, varying greatly from spot to spot and at different times. Nighttime concentrations were dramatically enhanced when the winds died down, forming a calm, shallow atmospheric layer near the surface, according to Leifer.

Perhaps the most surprising discovery was made in the Los Angeles area, where the study highlighted the importance of geologic methane emissions in the North Los Angeles Basin, centered on the La Brea Tar Pits. Rough estimation of emissions from the data suggests 10-20 percent of the methane emissions from Los Angeles could be natural geologic, influenced by the vast number of abandoned wells throughout the area.

This study was supported by a National Science Foundation Rapid Response Grant, by NASA and ESA, as well as JAXA, the Japanese Space Agency. Support also came from the Department of Energy, through the Gulf of Mexico Hydrates Research Consortium, the University of Mississippi, the University of Bremen, and the German Aerospace Center (DLR) Space Administration.

According to Leifer, these results illustrate the need for satellite technology to further this type of research and also to provide guidance to decision makers. "We are working with methane data from the Japanese satellite, GOSAT, to continue these investigations," Leifer said. "We look forward to when new tools, like ESA's CarbonSat and NASA's HyspIRI spacecraft, are in orbit to help, as well as results from a new joint NASA/ESA airborne campaign, COMEX, with University of Bremen researchers to improve further methane satellite designs." COMEX will test different airborne remote sensing technologies for application to methane observations.

George Foulsham | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.ucsb.edu

More articles from Earth Sciences:

nachricht New Link Between Ocean Microbes and Atmosphere Uncovered
22.05.2015 | University of California, San Diego

nachricht Scientists tackle mystery of thunderstorms that strike at night
21.05.2015 | National Center for Atmospheric Research/University Corporation for Atmospheric Research

All articles from Earth Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Kieler Forschende bauen die kleinsten Maschinen der Welt

Die DFG stellt Millionenförderung für die Entwicklung neuartiger Medikamente und Materialien an der Christian-Albrechts-Universität zu Kiel (CAU) bereit.

Großer Jubel an der Christian-Albrechts-Universität zu Kiel (CAU): Wie die Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG) heute (Donnerstag, 21. Mai) bekannt gab,...

Im Focus: Basler Physiker entwickeln Methode zur effizienten Signalübertragung aus Nanobauteilen

Physiker haben eine innovative Methode entwickelt, die den effizienten Einsatz von Nanobauteilen in elektronische Schaltkreisen ermöglichen könnte. Sie entwickelten dazu eine Anordnung, bei der ein Nanobauteil mit zwei elektrischen Leitern verbunden ist. Diese bewirken eine hocheffiziente Auskopplung des elektrischen Signals. Die Wissenschaftler vom Departement Physik und dem Swiss Nanoscience Institute der Universität Basel haben ihre Ergebnisse zusammen mit Kollegen der ETH Zürich in der Fachzeitschrift «Nature Communications» publiziert.

Elektronische Bauteile werden immer kleiner. In Forschungslabors werden bereits Bauelemente von wenigen Nanometern hergestellt, was ungefähr der Grösse von...

Im Focus: Basel Physicists Develop Efficient Method of Signal Transmission from Nanocomponents

Physicists have developed an innovative method that could enable the efficient use of nanocomponents in electronic circuits. To achieve this, they have developed a layout in which a nanocomponent is connected to two electrical conductors, which uncouple the electrical signal in a highly efficient manner. The scientists at the Department of Physics and the Swiss Nanoscience Institute at the University of Basel have published their results in the scientific journal “Nature Communications” together with their colleagues from ETH Zurich.

Electronic components are becoming smaller and smaller. Components measuring just a few nanometers – the size of around ten atoms – are already being produced...

Im Focus: Phagen übertragen Antibiotikaresistenzen auf Bakterien – Nachweis auf Geflügelfleisch

Bakterien entwickeln immer häufiger Resistenzen gegenüber Antibiotika. Es gibt unterschiedliche Erklärungen dafür, wie diese Resistenzen in die Bakterien gelangen. Forschende der Vetmeduni Vienna fanden sogenannte Phagen auf Geflügelfleisch, die Antibiotikaresistenzen auf Bakterien übertragen können. Phagen sind Viren, die ausschließlich Bakterien infizieren können. Für Menschen sind sie unschädlich. Phagen könnten laut Studie jedoch zur Verbreitung von Antibiotikaresistenzen beitragen. Die Erkenntnisse sind nicht nur für die Lebensmittelproduktion sondern auch für die Medizin von Bedeutung. Die Studie wurde in der Fachzeitschrift Applied and Environmental Microbiology veröffentlicht.

Antibiotikaresistente Bakterien stellen weltweit ein bedeutendes Gesundheitsrisiko dar. Gängige Antibiotika sind bei der Behandlung von Infektionskrankheiten...

Im Focus: Die schreckliche Schönheit der Medusa

Astronomen haben mit dem Very Large Telescope der ESO in Chile das bisher detailgetreueste Bild vom Medusa-Nebel eingefangen, das je aufgenommen wurde. Als der Stern im Herzen dieses Nebels altersschwach wurde, hat er seine äußeren Schichten abgestoßen, aus denen sich diese farbenfrohe Wolke bildete. Das Bild lässt erahnen, welches endgültige Schicksal die Sonne einmal ereilen wird: Irgendwann wird aus ihr ebenfalls ein Objekt dieser Art werden.

Dieser wunderschöne Planetarische Nebel ist nach einer schrecklichen Kreatur aus der griechischen Mythologie benannt – der Gorgone Medusa. Er trägt auch die...

Alle Focus-News des Innovations-reports >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

IHR
JOB & KARRIERE
SERVICE
im innovations-report
in Kooperation mit academics
Veranstaltungen

TU Darmstadt: Gipfel der Verschlüsselung - CROSSING-Konferenz am 1. und 2. Juni in Darmstadt

22.05.2015 | Veranstaltungen

Internationale neurowissenschaftliche Tagung

22.05.2015 | Veranstaltungen

Biokohle-Forscher tagen in Potsdam

21.05.2015 | Veranstaltungen

 
B2B-VideoLinks
Weitere VideoLinks >>>
Aktuelle Beiträge

Nanogefäß mit einer Perle aus Gold

22.05.2015 | Biowissenschaften Chemie

Ferngesteuerte Mikroschwimmer: Jülicher Physiker simulieren Bewegungen von Bakterien an Oberflächen

22.05.2015 | Physik Astronomie

Was Chromosomen im Innersten zusammenhält

22.05.2015 | Biowissenschaften Chemie