According to a new report from the World Meteorological Association (WMO), atmospheric levels of the three main greenhouse gases (carbon dioxide, methane and nitrous oxide) reached new record highs in 2021, with the largest year-on-year increase in methane concentrations since systematic measurements began four decades ago.
“The WMO Greenhouse Gas Bulletin has once again underlined the enormous challenge, and vital need, to take urgent action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and prevent global temperatures from rising further in the future,” said Petteri Taalas, WMO Secretary-General. “The continuing rise in concentrations of major heat-trapping gases, including record acceleration in methane levels, shows we are headed in the wrong direction.”
A NASA orbiting instrument, the Earth Surface Mineral Dust Investigation, or ‘EMIT’, has identified more than 50 “super emitter” regions around the world that are emitting unprecedented levels of methane.
The purpose of this instrument is to measure solar energy reflected from Earth in hundreds of wavelengths of light from the visible to infrared range to learn more about airborne dust and its effects on climate change, but it is also useful for detecting areas where significant amounts of methane are produced.
“The International Space Station and the more than two dozen NASA satellites and instruments in space have long been invaluable in determining changes in Earth’s climate. EMIT is proving to be a critical tool in our toolbox to measure this potent greenhouse gas and stop it at the source,” says NASA.
Where are these ‘super emitters’?
Since 2007, methane concentrations in the atmosphere have increased at an unprecedented rate. Recently detected methane hotspots include Turkmenistan, which produces plumes stretching more than 20 miles (32 km) wide east of the Caspian Sea port city of Hazar, the Permian Basin oil field in New Mexico , one of the world’s largest oil tankers or a waste processing complex south of Tehran, Iran , emitting a plume of methane at least 3 miles long.
“Some of the EMIT (methane) plumes detected are among the largest ever seen , unlike anything ever seen from space,” said Andrew Thorpe, a NASA research technologist who leads the EMIT studies. methane. “What we have found in a short time already exceeds our expectations.”
NASA says EMIT could potentially find hundreds of previously unknown methane ‘super emitters’ before its year-long mission ends.
The causes of this increase?
According to experts, the causes of this astonishing increase in methane emissions are not clear, but the clear responsible and trigger is, without a doubt, man. Anthropogenic change is the main actor in this bleak picture.
“We need to transform our industrial, energy and transportation systems and our entire way of life. The necessary changes are economically affordable and technically possible. Time is running out” , the experts conclude.
The study comes on the same day as a new UN report that says world governments have not committed to cutting carbon emissions enough, putting the world on track for a 2.5 degree Celsius rise in temperatures. global by the end of this century. The world is hurtling toward a future of unbearable heat, escalating weather disasters, collapsing ecosystems, and widespread hunger and disease.
Referencia: Greenhouse Gas Bulletin World Meteorological Organization 2022 public.wmo.int/en/greenhouse-gas-bulletin