Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Control of methane emissions would reduce both global warming and air pollution, researchers find

09.10.2002


Both air pollution and global warming could be reduced by controlling emissions of methane gas, according to a new study by scientists at Harvard University, the Argonne National Laboratory, and the Environmental Protection Agency. The reason, they say, is that methane is directly linked to the production of ozone in the troposphere, the lowest part of Earth’s atmosphere, extending from the surface to around 12 kilometers [7 miles] altitude. Ozone is the primary constituent of smog and both methane and ozone are significant greenhouse gases.



A simulation based upon emissions projections by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) predicts a longer and more intense ozone season in the United States by 2030, despite domestic emission reductions, the researchers note. Mitigation should therefore be considered on a global scale, the researchers say, and must take into account a rising global background level of ozone. Currently, the U.S. standard is based upon 84 parts per billion by volume of ozone, not to be exceeded more than three times per year, a standard that is not currently met nationwide. In Europe, the standard is much stricter, 55-65 parts of ozone per billion by volume, but these targets are also exceeded in many European countries.

Writing this month in the journal Geophysical Research Letters, Arlene M. Fiore and her colleagues say that one way to simultaneously decrease ozone pollution and greenhouse warming is to reduce methane emissions. Ozone is formed in the troposphere by chemical reactions involving methane, other organic compounds, and carbon monoxide, in the presence of nitrogen oxides and sunlight. Methane is known to be a major source of ozone throughout the troposphere, but is not usually considered to play a key role in the production of ozone smog in surface air, because of its long lifetime.


Sources of manmade methane include, notably, herds of cattle and other ungulates, rice production, and leaks of natural gas from pipelines, according to the IPCC. In addition, natural sources of methane include wetlands, termites, oceans, and gas hydrate nodules on the sea floor.

In a baseline study in 1995, 60 percent of methane emissions to the atmosphere were the result of human activity. The IPCC’s A1 scenario, which Fiore characterizes as "less optimistic in terms of anticipated emissions than a companion B1 scenario," posits economic development as the primary policy influencing future trends of manmade emissions in most countries. Under A1, emissions would increase globally from 1995 to 2030, but their distribution would shift. Manmade nitrogen oxides would decline by 10 percent in the developed world, but increase by 130 percent in developing countries. During the same period, methane emissions would increase by 43 percent globally, according to the A1 scenario.

The researchers find that a reduction of manmade methane by 50 percent would have a greater impact on global tropospheric ozone than a comparable reduction in manmade nitrogen oxide emissions. Reducing surface nitrogen oxide emissions does effectively improve air quality by decreasing surface ozone levels, but this impact tends to be localized, and does not yield much benefit in terms of greenhouse warming. Reductions in methane emissions would, however, help to decrease greenhouse warming by decreasing both methane and ozone in the atmosphere world-wide, and this would also help to reduce surface air pollution.

Both in the United States and Europe, aggressive programs of emission controls aimed at lowering ozone-based pollution may be offset by rising emissions of methane and nitrogen oxides from developing countries, the researchers write. Pollution could therefore increase, despite these controls, and the summertime pollution season would actually lengthen, according to the simulation under the A1 scenario.


The study was funded by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), and the National Science Foundation (NSF).

Harvey Leifert | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.agu.org/

More articles from Ecology, The Environment and Conservation:

nachricht Dispersal of Fish Eggs by Water Birds – Just a Myth?
19.02.2018 | Universität Basel

nachricht Removing fossil fuel subsidies will not reduce CO2 emissions as much as hoped
08.02.2018 | International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA)

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: Spider silk key to new bone-fixing composite

University of Connecticut researchers have created a biodegradable composite made of silk fibers that can be used to repair broken load-bearing bones without the complications sometimes presented by other materials.

Repairing major load-bearing bones such as those in the leg can be a long and uncomfortable process.

Im Focus: Writing and deleting magnets with lasers

Study published in the journal ACS Applied Materials & Interfaces is the outcome of an international effort that included teams from Dresden and Berlin in Germany, and the US.

Scientists at the Helmholtz-Zentrum Dresden-Rossendorf (HZDR) together with colleagues from the Helmholtz-Zentrum Berlin (HZB) and the University of Virginia...

Im Focus: Gamma-ray flashes from plasma filaments

Novel highly efficient and brilliant gamma-ray source: Based on model calculations, physicists of the Max PIanck Institute for Nuclear Physics in Heidelberg propose a novel method for an efficient high-brilliance gamma-ray source. A giant collimated gamma-ray pulse is generated from the interaction of a dense ultra-relativistic electron beam with a thin solid conductor. Energetic gamma-rays are copiously produced as the electron beam splits into filaments while propagating across the conductor. The resulting gamma-ray energy and flux enable novel experiments in nuclear and fundamental physics.

The typical wavelength of light interacting with an object of the microcosm scales with the size of this object. For atoms, this ranges from visible light to...

Im Focus: Basel researchers succeed in cultivating cartilage from stem cells

Stable joint cartilage can be produced from adult stem cells originating from bone marrow. This is made possible by inducing specific molecular processes occurring during embryonic cartilage formation, as researchers from the University and University Hospital of Basel report in the scientific journal PNAS.

Certain mesenchymal stem/stromal cells from the bone marrow of adults are considered extremely promising for skeletal tissue regeneration. These adult stem...

Im Focus: Like a wedge in a hinge

Researchers lay groundwork to tailor drugs for new targets in cancer therapy

In the fight against cancer, scientists are developing new drugs to hit tumor cells at so far unused weak points. Such a “sore spot” is the protein complex...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

Invitation to the upcoming "Current Topics in Bioinformatics: Big Data in Genomics and Medicine"

13.04.2018 | Event News

Unique scope of UV LED technologies and applications presented in Berlin: ICULTA-2018

12.04.2018 | Event News

IWOLIA: A conference bringing together German Industrie 4.0 and French Industrie du Futur

09.04.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

Magnetic nano-imaging on a table top

20.04.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

Start of work for the world's largest electric truck

20.04.2018 | Interdisciplinary Research

Atoms may hum a tune from grand cosmic symphony

20.04.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>