Only humans can create climate-altering methane burns, new studies suggest

Oil and Gas Firms Are Getting Massively Affected by Climate Change

Small air pockets of antiquated air caught in ice centers from Greenland propose we've been genuinely overestimating the normal pattern of methane, while inconceivably underestimating our own awful effect.

There is one rare radioactive isotope however, known as carbon-14, which is contained in biological methane and not in fossil fuel methane.

Fossilized methane can be released by geologic seeps, but according to the study's authors, such natural processes can't account for such a sudden shift in the amount of fossilized methane being released into the atmosphere.

Methane is now considered to be the second-largest contributor to global warming produced and released by human activity.

But researchers believe their findings offer hope, saying stricter regulations to curb methane emissions could help reduce future global warming to "a larger extent than previously thought".

A new study suggests we may have been severely underestimating how much human activity is driving it into the atmosphere, however, uncovering evidence that human-caused methane emissions are as much as 40 percent higher than previously estimated. "If it's not coming from seeps, then it's coming from fossil-fuel operations", says Rob Jackson, a Stanford professor of Earth system science who wasn't involved in the study.

As a greenhouse gas, methane is different than Carbon dioxide in two ways.

Using a melting chamber, the scientists collected the ancient air from the bubbles and subsequently analyzed its chemical composition.

Prof Hmiel and his colleagues used ice core measurements from Greenland from between 1750 and 2013 and previous data from Antarctica.

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In order to arrive at a more precise estimate, Benjamin Hmiels research group determined how much methane in pre-industrial times before coal and petroleum and natural gas in large quantities were naturally released into the atmosphere. However, radiocarbon measurements in modern air can not separate fossil methane that is emitted naturally from industrial sources.

Though methane can be released naturally, a new study - published Wednesday in the journal Nature - suggests scientists have been greatly underestimating the amount of methane released by humans during the last 300 years.

Mr Bromley says the degree of accuracy provided by the NIWA analysis means it is possible to pinpoint exactly how much methane is produced by humans. That renders methane a particularly suitable target for mitigating the levels of emission in a short period of time. The timing coincides with a sharp increase in the use of fossil fuels. Researchers distinguish between the two by looking at the nature of the carbon isotopes this molecule contains - carbon-14 for fossil methane (which was locked in fossil fuel deposits) and "regular" carbon-13 for biological methane.

Today, this implies our own methane outflows may be up to 40 percent higher than suspected.

Considering the total fossil emissions quantified in the air now, Hmiel and his collaborators inferred that the artificial fossil component is more than anticipated-25% to 40% higher was discovered by the team. That's when the fossil component began to rise rapidly. The timing matches with a sudden increase in the usage of fossil fuels. "It's actually a good news story", he said.

"By better understanding the sources of methane to the atmosphere, we can implement more targeted reduction strategies going forward", Buizert says.

Because the sampled air came from a time when there were no industrial emissions sources, the scientists discovered the levels of naturally-released fossil methane were much lower than previously reported.

"One of our take-home points is that we need to be more concerned about the anthropogenic emissions-those originating from human activities-than the natural feedbacks", Dyonisius says.

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