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Untangling methane sources

Cutting-edge instrumentation, techniques can affordably separate methane emission sources

Mar 21, 2019 - by Staff

With natural gas booming across the Front Range, drilling rigs may operate within feet from cattle farms. That shared land use can confound attempts to understand trends in methane, a greenhouse gas and air pollutant because the gases emitted from these different sources blend together.

To untangle them, a team led by the Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences (CIRES), with support from the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) has created a new, cost-effective technique to efficiently measure column methane and a cocktail of associated chemicals in the atmosphere, and to create a kind of chemical identification tag for methane sources.

"This research takes a novel next step to more directly determine the sources of methane on a small or regional scale like the Front Range," said NCAR scientist James Hannigan, a co-author of the study. "It provides a blueprint for more accurate monitoring of emissions of this important greenhouse gas."

Read the CIRES news release.

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