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 A new indicator for marine ecosystem changes: the diatom/dinoflagellate index
21.08.2017 | Leibniz-Institut für Ostseeforschung Warnemünde

nachricht Value from wastewater
16.08.2017 | Hochschule Landshut

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: Fizzy soda water could be key to clean manufacture of flat wonder material: Graphene

Whether you call it effervescent, fizzy, or sparkling, carbonated water is making a comeback as a beverage. Aside from quenching thirst, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have discovered a new use for these "bubbly" concoctions that will have major impact on the manufacturer of the world's thinnest, flattest, and one most useful materials -- graphene.

As graphene's popularity grows as an advanced "wonder" material, the speed and quality at which it can be manufactured will be paramount. With that in mind,...

Im Focus: Exotic quantum states made from light: Physicists create optical “wells” for a super-photon

Physicists at the University of Bonn have managed to create optical hollows and more complex patterns into which the light of a Bose-Einstein condensate flows. The creation of such highly low-loss structures for light is a prerequisite for complex light circuits, such as for quantum information processing for a new generation of computers. The researchers are now presenting their results in the journal Nature Photonics.

Light particles (photons) occur as tiny, indivisible portions. Many thousands of these light portions can be merged to form a single super-photon if they are...

Im Focus: Circular RNA linked to brain function

For the first time, scientists have shown that circular RNA is linked to brain function. When a RNA molecule called Cdr1as was deleted from the genome of mice, the animals had problems filtering out unnecessary information – like patients suffering from neuropsychiatric disorders.

While hundreds of circular RNAs (circRNAs) are abundant in mammalian brains, one big question has remained unanswered: What are they actually good for? In the...

Im Focus: RAVAN CubeSat measures Earth's outgoing energy

An experimental small satellite has successfully collected and delivered data on a key measurement for predicting changes in Earth's climate.

The Radiometer Assessment using Vertically Aligned Nanotubes (RAVAN) CubeSat was launched into low-Earth orbit on Nov. 11, 2016, in order to test new...

Im Focus: Scientists shine new light on the “other high temperature superconductor”

A study led by scientists of the Max Planck Institute for the Structure and Dynamics of Matter (MPSD) at the Center for Free-Electron Laser Science in Hamburg presents evidence of the coexistence of superconductivity and “charge-density-waves” in compounds of the poorly-studied family of bismuthates. This observation opens up new perspectives for a deeper understanding of the phenomenon of high-temperature superconductivity, a topic which is at the core of condensed matter research since more than 30 years. The paper by Nicoletti et al has been published in the PNAS.

Since the beginning of the 20th century, superconductivity had been observed in some metals at temperatures only a few degrees above the absolute zero (minus...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Call for Papers – ICNFT 2018, 5th International Conference on New Forming Technology

16.08.2017 | Event News

Sustainability is the business model of tomorrow

04.08.2017 | Event News

Clash of Realities 2017: Registration now open. International Conference at TH Köln

26.07.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Cholesterol-lowering drugs may fight infectious disease

22.08.2017 | Health and Medicine

Meter-sized single-crystal graphene growth becomes possible

22.08.2017 | Materials Sciences

Repairing damaged hearts with self-healing heart cells

22.08.2017 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>