Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Monitoring greenhouse gas emissions independently

22.03.2016

Mistakes can happen when estimating emissions of greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide and methane. Researchers funded by the Swiss National Science Foundation have developed a method to independently validate national statistics.

The signatory countries of the Kyoto Protocol and the new Paris Agreement have committed to reduce global warming. The countries themselves use estimates and projections to verify whether they are actually achieving the necessary reduction in greenhouse gases.

The uncertainties are considerable and mistakes do happen. Researchers funded by the Swiss National Science Foundation (SNSF) have developed a method to independently monitor these statistics by making direct measurements of the gases in the atmosphere (*).

Hardly any natural gas pipeline leaks

Researchers at Empa in Dübendorf, the University of Bern and ETH Zurich combined the data measured for methane (CH4) with a transport model for air pollutants in Switzerland. The result: The values for 2013 diverged only marginally from the figures published by the Federal Office for the Environment (FOEN) and confirmed the estimated annual emission of approximately 200,000 tonnes of methane.

The proportion of methane emissions caused by livestock farming, contributing the lion's share of 70 percent, was found to be somewhat lower than previously estimated. On the other hand, it was confirmed that gas pipeline leaks in Switzerland’s towns and cities were only a minor source of methane. The assumptions here had always been highly uncertain. Surprisingly, the volume of methane emissions in north-eastern Switzerland was higher than assumed.

“We are now planning a measurement campaign closer to the relevant areas to verify whether the difference is actually real,” says Dominik Brunner, atmospheric physicist and study leader at Empa.

For the model simulations, Brunner and his colleagues integrated data from two new measuring stations (installed specifically for the project) on the Lägeren mountain near Baden and on the former radio transmission tower at Beromünster (canton of Lucerne), as well as data from two more locations on the Swiss plateau. A small number of locations were sufficient for determining methane emissions in Switzerland since, thanks to the weather model of the Federal Office of Meteorology and Climatology (MeteoSwiss), the intricate trajectories of air parcels can be traced back several days across to the Atlantic.

Widening the European monitoring network

“We have improved on the resolution of the inverse modelling already applied to larger areas such as the USA and scaled it to Switzerland's challenging topography,” remarks Stephan Henne, the first author of the study. The FOEN plans to publish the study as an annex to Switzerland’s latest greenhouse gas inventory on 15 April 2016. This makes Switzerland one of only three countries, including the UK and Australia, to publish an independent validation of its figures.

The project CarboCount-CH can be considered a pilot for the pan-European observation network “Integrated Carbon Observation System” (ICOS), which is currently being set up to monitor greenhouse gas emission at the European scale. Henne: “Our next CarboCount-CH project will be an investigation of carbon dioxide (CO2) uptake by vegetation.”

(*) S. Henne, D. Brunner, B. Oney, M. Leuenberger et al. (2015). Validation of the Swiss methane emission inventory by atmospheric observations and inverse modelling. Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics. http://dx.doi.org/10.5194/acpd-15-35417-2015 (Open Access)

Project on the database P3 http://p3.snf.ch/project-136273

Contact details
Dr Dominik Brunner
Laboratory for Air Pollution/Environmental Technology
Empa Dübendorf
Tel.: +41 58 765 4944
e-mail: dominik.brunner@empa.ch

The text of this press release is available on the website of the Swiss National Science Foundation: www.snf.ch  > Research in Focus > Media > Press releases

Weitere Informationen:

http://www.snf.ch/en/researchinFocus/newsroom/Pages/news-160322-press-release-mo...

Media - Abteilung Kommunikation | idw - Informationsdienst Wissenschaft

More articles from Ecology, The Environment and Conservation:

nachricht Preservation of floodplains is flood protection
27.09.2017 | Technische Universität München

nachricht Conservationists are sounding the alarm: parrots much more threatened than assumed
15.09.2017 | Justus-Liebig-Universität Gießen

All articles from Ecology, The Environment and Conservation >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Neutron star merger directly observed for the first time

University of Maryland researchers contribute to historic detection of gravitational waves and light created by event

On August 17, 2017, at 12:41:04 UTC, scientists made the first direct observation of a merger between two neutron stars--the dense, collapsed cores that remain...

Im Focus: Breaking: the first light from two neutron stars merging

Seven new papers describe the first-ever detection of light from a gravitational wave source. The event, caused by two neutron stars colliding and merging together, was dubbed GW170817 because it sent ripples through space-time that reached Earth on 2017 August 17. Around the world, hundreds of excited astronomers mobilized quickly and were able to observe the event using numerous telescopes, providing a wealth of new data.

Previous detections of gravitational waves have all involved the merger of two black holes, a feat that won the 2017 Nobel Prize in Physics earlier this month....

Im Focus: Smart sensors for efficient processes

Material defects in end products can quickly result in failures in many areas of industry, and have a massive impact on the safe use of their products. This is why, in the field of quality assurance, intelligent, nondestructive sensor systems play a key role. They allow testing components and parts in a rapid and cost-efficient manner without destroying the actual product or changing its surface. Experts from the Fraunhofer IZFP in Saarbrücken will be presenting two exhibits at the Blechexpo in Stuttgart from 7–10 November 2017 that allow fast, reliable, and automated characterization of materials and detection of defects (Hall 5, Booth 5306).

When quality testing uses time-consuming destructive test methods, it can result in enormous costs due to damaging or destroying the products. And given that...

Im Focus: Cold molecules on collision course

Using a new cooling technique MPQ scientists succeed at observing collisions in a dense beam of cold and slow dipolar molecules.

How do chemical reactions proceed at extremely low temperatures? The answer requires the investigation of molecular samples that are cold, dense, and slow at...

Im Focus: Shrinking the proton again!

Scientists from the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics, using high precision laser spectroscopy of atomic hydrogen, confirm the surprisingly small value of the proton radius determined from muonic hydrogen.

It was one of the breakthroughs of the year 2010: Laser spectroscopy of muonic hydrogen resulted in a value for the proton charge radius that was significantly...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

ASEAN Member States discuss the future role of renewable energy

17.10.2017 | Event News

World Health Summit 2017: International experts set the course for the future of Global Health

10.10.2017 | Event News

Climate Engineering Conference 2017 Opens in Berlin

10.10.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Terahertz spectroscopy goes nano

20.10.2017 | Information Technology

Strange but true: Turning a material upside down can sometimes make it softer

20.10.2017 | Materials Sciences

NRL clarifies valley polarization for electronic and optoelectronic technologies

20.10.2017 | Interdisciplinary Research

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>