March 5, 2024

Scientists Calculate Climatic Impact of Methane Leak From Ruptured Nord Stream Pipelines

Methane getting away from messed up pipelines in the Baltic Sea (September 27, 2022). Credit: Danish Armed Forces
Nord Stream 1 and 2, 2 subsea pipelines for transferring natural gas from Russia to Germany, were both deliberately ruptured on September 26, 2022. Enormous quantities of gases, mostly methane, left into the ocean and were then released into the atmosphere.
Methane is the second most abundant anthropogenic greenhouse gas after CO2 in terms of volume in the environment, however it has a much more powerful greenhouse effect. Therefore, whether unfavorable climatic impacts would occur from this event is a crucial concern worldwide. A news article published in the journal Nature commented on this problem, no quantitative conclusions were made.

This was the largest methane emission in a single occasion in human history.

Methane is the second most abundant anthropogenic greenhouse gas after CO2 in terms of volume in the atmosphere, but it has a much stronger greenhouse result. According to IPCC AR6, yearly emissions of methane from the oil and gas sectors amounted to as much as 70 Mt throughout 2008– 2017. Particularly, they determined that the amount of heat collected per unit mass of methane in the next 20 years after its emission into the environment is 82.5 times that of CO2. Armed with this info, they were able to compute that, when considering a time horizon of 20 years, the weather effect of the dripped methane is comparable to that of 20.6 Mt of CO2, which would raise the climatic CO2 concentration by just 0.0026 ppm.

Recently, scientists from the Institute of Atmospheric Physics, Chinese Academy of Sciences, approximated the possible weather effect of the leaked methane by adopting the energy-conservation framework of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Changes Sixth Assessment Report (IPCC AR6), released in 2021. Their findings were published today (November 11) in the journal Advances in Atmospheric Sciences.
The scientists collected all quotes of the overall amount of dripped methane readily available in the worlds media after the event. It later became clear that the amount of methane that leaked was likely to be much lower than very first approximated.
This value established that this was the biggest methane emission in a single occasion in human history– more than two times that of the Aliso Canyon mishap in California in 2015. According to IPCC AR6, annual emissions of methane from the oil and gas sectors amounted to as much as 70 Mt during 2008– 2017. This means that the dripped methane from the Nord Stream pipelines was comparable to just 1 day of emissions from these sectors.
IPCC AR6 likewise highlighted that methane in the atmosphere is gradually removed by responding with certain radicals, such as hydroxyl radical, resulting in an approximate 10-year lifetime, which is short-term compared to CO2. This indicates that the climatic effect of methane depends upon the time horizon, which makes complex matters when trying to calculate it straight.
Instead, the researchers made an indirect estimate with the assistance of the concept of “worldwide warming potential.” Specifically, they figured out that the amount of heat collected per system mass of methane in the next 20 years after its emission into the environment is 82.5 times that of CO2. Then, armed with this details, they had the ability to compute that, when thinking about a time horizon of 20 years, the climatic effect of the leaked methane is comparable to that of 20.6 Mt of CO2, which would raise the atmospheric CO2 concentration by just 0.0026 ppm.
Based upon the most recent evaluations in IPCC AR6 of the reliable radiative requiring under doubled CO2, environment feedback, and ocean heat uptake efficiency, under the energy conservation framework, the global mean surface air temperature would in theory increase by 1.8 × 10-5 ° C.
” Such a small warming can not be viewed in communities or human society,” discusses Dr. Xiaolong Chen, very first author of the research study. “Still, anthropogenic methane has actually been the second biggest motorist of international warming, and is given off from multiple sectors of agriculture and industry. If we are going to achieve the warming target of listed below 1.5 ° C or 2 ° C set out in the Paris Agreement, damage to infrastructure such as this need to be avoided so that we can better control and lower methane emissions.”
Referral: “Negligible Warming Caused by Nord Stream Methane Leaks” by Xiaolong Chen and Tianjun Zhou, 11 November 2022, Advances in Atmospheric Sciences.DOI: 10.1007/ s00376-022-2305-x.