Global emissions of methane are 110 percent higher than previously thought, according to a new article published in the journal Nature. The study focuses on the methane produced by oil and gas.

The study also concluded that the methane leaked in process regarding coal, gas and natural oil is twenty to sixty percent higher than what was usually estimated. Nonetheless, while the oil and gas industry in one of the main culprits of methane emissions, researchers argue they are not to be entirely blamed.

For total livestock emissions, beef cattle account for the highest methane emissions. Image Credit: EGU

“Methane emissions from fossil fuel development have been dramatically underestimated. But they’re not responsible for the increase in total methane emissions observed since 2007,” stated Stefan Schwietzke, lead author of the research and a scientist at the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

The team of researchers used a methodology that shuns “debatable assumptions” that were common in previous studies. In an attempt of being more precise, they also compiled and analyzed a database that is one hundred percent larger than the ones commonly used.

The study’s conclusions

The scientists found out that the methane concentration worldwide had doubled since the 18th Century. Even more, since 1999 the atmospheric methane levels had peaked and then remained constant. In 2007 the levels began to increase. More research needs to be done to clarify the causes of the increase in methane concentrations in the atmosphere, but so far the scientists have deleted the oil and gas industry as the main culprit.

This conclusion was reached by analyzing these industry emissions. The investigation confirmed that these polluters had maintained constant levels of methane contamination since 2007, despite an increase in natural gas production.

The greenhouse gasses

Methane is the most dangerous of all greenhouse gasses and is the second largest cause of global warming, only surpassed by carbon dioxide. These gasses absorbs the heat and emits radiation within the “thermal infrared range” of the atmosphere, keeping the heat trapped.

The main greenhouse gasses in Earth’s atmosphere are carbon dioxide, methane, water vapor, ozone and nitrous oxide. Without them, the planet’s temperature would be −18 degree Celsius, instead of the media of fifteen degree Celsius, needed for life.

However, the rise of these gasses concentration, which started in the Industrial Revolution, are producing the greenhouse effect, which has as a consequence global warming, which will have disastrous effects on biodiversity, ecosystems, and livelihoods all over the world.

Scientists believe that soon the Earth could warm over two degree Celsius, something the United Nations have cataloged as “dangerous.” So far, governments and world leaders are in the midst of negotiations regarding the Paris Agreement, an international accord that is aimed to reduce greenhouse gasses.

It is expected that the European Union will deliver the ratification documents on Friday, making the pact enter into force after India, the fifth global polluter also joined last Sunday. The United States and China had already ratified the accord on last September.

Sources: Nature World News