A study by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration published on Oct 13 used a database 100 times larger than previous studies to demonstrate where the global methane increases come from. Methane emissions have been steadily rising for the past nine years and the oil and gas shale development has frequently been blamed. NOAA research used “methane isotopes to determine their sources — fossil fuels, biomass burning, microbes, agriculture and others. Biological processes including cattle, landfills and agriculture produce 67% of the total human caused methane emissions. The research team found that up to 20-25 % of emissions comes from oil and gas developments worldwide. Stefan Schwietzke, a research scientist at NOAA’s Earth System Research Laboratory in Boulder, CO, said “We recognize the findings might seem counterintuitive —methane emissions from fossil fuel development have been dramatically underestimated — but they’re not responsible for the increase in total methane emissions observed since 2007.” Belching cattle accounts for a large portion of the methane emissions in the U.S.
Note - editor: The NOAA research was partially funded through a RPSEA project managed by the Colorado School of Mines.