Sunday, November 3, 2013

Arctic Methane Levels on the Increase


Good Gas, Bad Gas

Burn natural gas and it warms your house. But let it leak,
from fracked wells or the melting Arctic, and it
warms the whole planet.

Methane emissions are rising. What’s coming out of Arctic lakes is troubling, Walter Anthony says, because some of it seems to be coming not from bottom mud but from deeper geologic reservoirs that had hitherto been securely capped by permafrost—and that contain hundreds of times more methane than is in the atmosphere now. Still, most methane emissions today come from lower latitudes, and most are related more directly to human activities. A growing amount seems to be leaking, for instance, from gas wells and pipelines. Just how warm Earth gets this century will hinge in part on how we balance the good and bad of methane—on how much of it we capture and burn, and how much we inadvertently let loose.

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