Thursday, May 7, 2015

Methane mystery in Anasazi land

The Four Corners region is a mecca for mysteries, including the disappeared cliff-dwelling Anasazis, reported UFOs and the Devil’s Highway, route 666.
The latest mystery scientists are trying to unravel is “the now notorious Four Corners Methane Hotspot, a massive concentration of potent greenhouse gas detected by a satellite between 2003 and 2009,” High Country News reports.
Methane gas is one of the chief causes of global warming.
Associated Press reported: “Methane doesn't last as long in the atmosphere as carbon dioxide, but it's far more potent for capturing heat in the short term.”
Although the satellite that discovered it has shut down, the hotspot remains. Its presence was revealed last year.
A study detailing the satellite's findings was released last year.
This spring scientists have been flying over the area to determine how much of it is natural and how much comes from the coal bed methane fields in the San Juan Basin. A month-long study is near completion.
It is the biggest “hot spot” in the nation, “equal to nearly 10 percent of all U.S. methane emissions from natural gas,” according to Live Science.
Phys.Org reports: "A detailed analysis indicates that methane emissions in the region are actually three times larger than reported by EPA. Our analysis demonstrates that current EPA inventories are missing huge methane sources in the region," said Manvendra Dubey, a Los Alamos National Laboratory scientist on the project. "We attribute this hot spot to fugitive leaks from coal-bed methane that actually preceded recent concerns about potential emissions from fracking," Dubey said.
Geophyiscal Research Letters reported the findings of Dubey’s team of LANL, NASA and University of Michigan scientists.
The EPA says methane gas is the second most prevalent greenhouse gas emitted in the U.S.
President Obama issued Executive Order 13693 on March 15, 2015. It “aims to reduce the federal government’s greenhouse gas (“GHG”) emissions while increasing clean energy consumption. The Order applies to all federal agencies by definition and details a three-tiered scope of applicability to encourage parallel changes “across the Federal supply chain.”
Some scientists have linked fracking to methane gas leaks around the nation.
The Four Corners Area of New Mexico, Colorado, Arizona and Utah, also suffers pollution from power plants, some based on Indian reservations.

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