New study confirms extensive gas leaks in the North Sea

During expeditions to oil and gas reservoirs in the central North Sea in 2012 and 2013, scientists of the GEOMAR Helmholtz Centre for Ocean Research Kiel (Germany) became aware of a phenomenon that had been hardly recognized ...

New Space satellite pinpoints industrial methane emissions

Methane may not be as abundant in the atmosphere as carbon dioxide, but with a global warming potential many times greater than carbon dioxide, monitoring and controlling industrial emissions of this potent gas is imperative ...

Make your own greenhouse gas logger

Researchers at Linköping University's Department of Thematic Studies, Environmental Change, have developed a simple logger for greenhouse gas flows. It is built using inexpensive and easily available parts, and provides ...

ExoMars finds new gas signatures in the martian atmosphere

ESA's ExoMars Trace Gas Orbiter has spotted new gas signatures at Mars. These unlock new secrets about the martian atmosphere, and will enable a more accurate determination of whether there is methane, a gas associated with ...

How Rwanda extracts methane from Lake Kivu for electricity

Lake Kivu lies on the border between the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Rwanda. It's almost the size of Mauritius and has a maximum depth of 480 meters. Lake Kivu also stores huge amounts of methane gas which Rwanda ...

Global methane emissions soar to record high

Global emissions of methane have reached the highest levels on record. Increases are being driven primarily by growth of emissions from coal mining, oil and natural gas production, cattle and sheep ranching, and landfills.

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Methane

Methane is a chemical compound with the molecular formula CH4. It is the simplest alkane, and the principal component of natural gas. Methane's bond angles are 109.5 degrees. Burning methane in the presence of oxygen produces carbon dioxide and water. The relative abundance of methane and its clean burning process makes it an attractive fuel. However, because it is a gas at normal temperature and pressure, methane is difficult to transport from its source. In its natural gas form, it is generally transported in bulk by pipeline or LNG carriers; few countries transport it by truck.

Methane was discovered and isolated by Alessandro Volta between 1776 and 1778 when studying marsh gas from Lake Maggiore.

Methane is a relatively potent greenhouse gas with a high global warming potential of 72 (averaged over 20 years) or 25 (averaged over 100 years). Methane in the atmosphere is eventually oxidized, producing carbon dioxide and water. As a result, methane in the atmosphere has a half life of seven years.

The abundance of methane in the Earth's atmosphere in 1998 was 1745 parts per billion, up from 700 ppb in 1750. Methane can trap about 20 times the heat of CO2. In the same time period, CO2 increased from 278 to 365 parts per million. The radiative forcing effect due to this increase in methane abundance is about one-third of that of the CO2 increase. In addition, there is a large, but unknown, amount of methane in methane clathrates in the ocean floors. The Earth's crust contains huge amounts of methane. Large amounts of methane are produced anaerobically by methanogenesis. Other sources include mud volcanoes, which are connected with deep geological faults, and livestock (primarily cows) from enteric fermentation.

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