Methane

Major Atmospheric Methane Spike
On February 20th 2015, for about 12 hours, the NOAA METOP measure recorded a major atmospheric methane spike in the range of 3,096 parts per billion at 20,000 feet. This was the highest methane reading ever recorded and the first time any measurement has exceeded the 3,000 parts per billion threshold.

This far exceeds the global atmospheric average of around 1830 parts per billion.
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California Methane Leak
The mammoth methane gas leak that spewed uncontrollably from a damaged well in California’s Aliso Canyon was finally capped last week. The Aliso Canyon leak thrust an estimated 96,000 metric tons of potent methane, and other noxious substances, into the atmosphere at a rate of 58,000 kilograms of methane per hour.

In Texas, researchers estimate around 60,000 kilograms are spewed every hour by over 25,000 natural gas wells in operation on the Barnett Shale. This amounts to around 544,000 tons of methane every year. Texas is dealing with a comparable disaster that has been overlooked by officials and the media because the state’s methane emanates from a powerful industry.

Global average abundances of the major, well-mixed, long-lived greenhouse gases - carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide, CFC-12 and CFC-11 - from the NOAA

February 25, 2015 Copenicus methane graphic tracking surface methane readings.
A vast expanse of permafrost has started to thaw for the first time since it formed 11,000 years ago. It is caused by the recent 3+°C rise in local temperature over the past 40 years - more than four times the global average. Peat bogs cover an area of a million square miles (or almost a quarter of the earth's land surface) to a depth of 25 meters.
This has the potential to release vast quantities of methane trapped below the surface - billions of tonnes of methane. World-wide, peat bogs store at least two trillion tons of CO2. This is equivalent to a century of emissions from fossil fuels.

This is one of scientist's most feared tipping points.

Russian scientists examining enormous craters which have appeared in the Yamal region of Siberia


According to HEET, the researchers drove a high precision GIS-enabled natural gas analyzer down the roads around the gas leak to create a comprehensive map of the leak around San Fernando Valley. The red on the map indicates where they drove and the levels of methane they found is shown by the height of the peaks.
It now looks like the catastrophic Porter Ranch gas leak, which has spewed more than 83,000 metric tons of noxious methane for nearly three months, has spread across Los Angeles’s San Fernando Valley.

On Wednesday, Los Angeles City Councilman Mitchell Englander called on the Southern California Gas Co. to extend residential relocation assistance to residents in Granada Hills, Chatsworth and Northridge who live near the Aliso Canyon gas leak above Porter Ranch.

Residents reported symptoms related to the exposure of natural gas such as nausea, vomiting, headaches and respiratory problems. Their monitors showed methane levels at 3.4 parts per billion, about twice the level of natural clean air, the Los Angeles Daily News reported. Another measurement showed 127 ppm, or an astounding 67 times above normal.

“Whatever else may be in the gas—benzene, toluene, xylene — that is what people may be breathing,” Phillips said. “Even though we’re not measuring things other than methane, there is a legitimate concern that there is other nasty stuff in there.”
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One of the biggest environmental disasters in US history is happening right now, and you’ve probably never heard of it.

An enormous amount of methane gas is currently erupting from an energy facility in Aliso Canyon, California, at a rate of 110,000 pounds per hour. The gas has led to the evacuation 1,700 homes so far. It’s the climate equivalent of the BP disaster in the Gulf of Mexico: the rupture of a natural gas storage site that is spewing vast amounts of methane into the atmosphere and is likely to go unchecked for many more months.
The leak was detected on 23 October and now accounts for at least a quarter of California’s emissions of methane. Already, the ruptured storage facility has released well over the equivalent of 800,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide – about the same amount that would be generated by driving 160,000 cars for a year, according to the California Air Resources Board.

The natural gas storage site is one of the biggest such facilities in the western US, and was originally built for the oil industry about 60 years ago. When the oil fields went dry, the infrastructure was repurposed, with the 8,000-foot well used as a storage site.
So far, over 150 million pounds of methane have been released by the leak, which connects to an enormous underground containment system. Research has revealed that more than 38 percent of the pipes in Southern California Gas Company’s territory are more than 50 years old.

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