From: University of Rochester
Published August 25, 2017 01:18 PM

Icy air reveals human-made methane levels higher than previously believed

In 2011 a team of researchers led by Vasilii Petrenko, an assistant professor of Earth and environmental sciences at the University of Rochester, spent seven weeks in Antarctica collecting and studying 2,000-pound samples of glacial ice cores that date back nearly 12,000 years. The ancient air trapped within the ice revealed surprising new data about methane that may help inform today’s policymakers as they consider ways to reduce global warming.

In a new paper published in Nature, the researchers report two important findings regarding methane, a powerful greenhouse gas and large contributor to global warming:

  • First, the risk that warming will trigger methane release from large natural reservoirs of ancient carbon seems to be low.
  • Second, humans are probably contributing more methane to the atmosphere through fossil fuel use and extraction than scientists previously believed.

Reducing methane emissions from fossil fuels may therefore be an even more important factor in reducing global warming.

Read more at University of Rochester

Image: Visilli Petrenko and collaborators from several US and international laboratories set up camp on Taylor Glacier in Antarctica. The ice cores they extract here date back nearly 12,000 years.

Credit: Vasilii Petrenko

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