Methane Leakage From Gas Drilling Higher Than Thought, Undermines Climate Benefit

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    Methane Leakage From Gas Drilling Higher Than Thought, Undermines Climate Benefit

    UC Santa Barbara news release

    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.

    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.

     

    UC Santa Barbara news release

    ***************************

     

    I'm all for using natural gas as part of an AOTA energy strategy/source, but there's no excuse for not making the extraction process as ecologically sound, unobtrusive, and efficient as possible.  Carbon recapture should be a first-day priority of any drilling operation.

     

     

     
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    Re: Methane Leakage From Gas Drilling Higher Than Thought, Undermines Climate Benefit

    "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."

    How scientifically reliable is obtaining data by "meandering"?

    The scientists got a nice vacation traveling around the country. Of course, if they were really true scientists and actually concerned about methane, they would also accomplish a detailed and close up analysis of a major source of methane....flatulence from cattle.

     
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  4. You have chosen to ignore posts from StalkingButler. Show StalkingButler's posts

    Re: Methane Leakage From Gas Drilling Higher Than Thought, Undermines Climate Benefit

    Did they perform the measurements before drilling began to get a baseline? Because, if they didn't, the study is basically invalid since any leakage due to drilling would not be distinguishable from naturally occuring leakage.

     

     

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    Never underestimate the power of stupid people in large groups.

     

     
  5. You have chosen to ignore posts from massmoderateJoe. Show massmoderateJoe's posts

    Re: Methane Leakage From Gas Drilling Higher Than Thought, Undermines Climate Benefit

    In response to MattyScornD's comment:

    UC Santa Barbara news release

    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.

    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.

     

    UC Santa Barbara news release

    ***************************

     

    I'm all for using natural gas as part of an AOTA energy strategy/source, but there's no excuse for not making the extraction process as ecologically sound, unobtrusive, and efficient as possible.  Carbon recapture should be a first-day priority of any drilling operation.

     

     



    I'm not reading where natural gas exploration was attributed to methane releases.  Methane is being released from old land fills that are off gasing through vents and from geologic fault lines as well as cows and tar pits.

     
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    Re: Methane Leakage From Gas Drilling Higher Than Thought, Undermines Climate Benefit

    If they can distinguish between the natural sources and the man-made ones then they can make some conclusions as to the source. Their methodology though does not distinguish between man made and natural other than a means of locating the source by circumnavigating and even that cannot distinguish the difference other than by inference.

    Regardless, there is no sense spewing anything into the air if it can be prevented at a resonable cost.

     

     
  7. You have chosen to ignore posts from MattyScornD. Show MattyScornD's posts

    Re: Methane Leakage From Gas Drilling Higher Than Thought, Undermines Climate Benefit

    In response to massmoderateJoe's comment:

    In response to MattyScornD's comment:

     

    UC Santa Barbara news release

    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.

    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.

     

    UC Santa Barbara news release

    ***************************

     

    I'm all for using natural gas as part of an AOTA energy strategy/source, but there's no excuse for not making the extraction process as ecologically sound, unobtrusive, and efficient as possible.  Carbon recapture should be a first-day priority of any drilling operation.

     

     

     



    I'm not reading where natural gas exploration was attributed to methane releases.  Methane is being released from old land fills that are off gasing through vents and from geologic fault lines as well as cows and tar pits.

     



    There are many significant sources of high concentrations of methane (yes, even the cows in clc's strawman), and gas drilling happens to be the fastest-growing source during a period of heavy extraction.  The margins of efficiency around gas exploration are very tight; tight enough that too much methane leakage negates any carbon savings from use of cleaner-burning natural gas.

    I admit that the thread title is too specific to a fault...the larger point being more accurately about fossil fuel production.  Point taken.

     

     

     
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  9. You have chosen to ignore posts from skeeter20. Show skeeter20's posts

    Re: Methane Leakage From Gas Drilling Higher Than Thought, Undermines Climate Benefit

    In response to WhatDoYouWantNow's comment:

    In response to GreginMeffa's comment:

     

    Is this about fracking, that ony republicans support, unless your name is Barack Obama?

     




    Is Matty required to only say good things about something Obama may have supported in some capacity, and required to say negative things about something Obama may have not supported in some capacity - or else he's a hypocrite? And this, by virtue of having been labled a librulby conservatives on BDC?

     

     

     



    Yes.  

    Is that your opinion?

    it's a fact.

     
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