Scientists Find Solution to Methane Emissions!

By: Sonali Dhaliwal
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“A new testing protocol that uses existing, affordable water chemistry tests may help scientists locate sites by showing signs of new methane gas leaks,'' according to science daily. 

Before we get into the methane testing protocol, let’s talk about methane. Methane is a short lived greenhouse gas that is nearly 100 times more harmful than carbon dioxide. Therefore, if methane were to have a leak, it would absorb the sun’s heat and lead to warming of the atmosphere, which is clearly terrible for the climate. As of today’s situations, 25% of man-made global warming experienced, is the result of methane emissions.  

Sometime last year, researchers from Pennsylvania State University, came up with a protocol that would help in predicting future and current methane gas leaks, quicker. This August, they applied this protocol to big water wells that were impacted by the fossil fuel industry, all located  in three regions of Pennsylvania. They took samples from northeast, northwest, and southwest parts of the state, where there were traces of both conventional and unconventional gas drilling. Researchers were searching for certain chemicals in order to determine whether or not there have been traces of gas leaks. 

The main reason scientists wanted to conduct this research, was to discover how much chemical changes were in the wells. They wanted to see how much methane contamination there had already been and how high  the chances for future leaks during drilling or extraction of fossil fuels. This tool is a great way to plan ahead of time, and produce different ways to prevent climate change and future disasters.

In the results, scientists realized that their expectations were true. They expected less than 1% of the sites to be exposed to methane.  Tao Wen, a postdoctoral scholar in the Earth and Environmental Systems Institute at the University said, “We found 17 out of 20,751 samples, or about 0.08 %, that showed possible signs of methane contamination when those samples were collected.” They had also divided the samples into further groups for better investigation. The two types contained high methane and sulfate levels, and either low or high iron levels.  Scientists were amazed because there were no signs of gas leaks within the 2,900 feet of known infected water wells, but seen in the least expected wells.

Overall, the use of this protocol, can benefit us by being used as a screening tool for methane contamination. Scientists believe this method can be used worldwide along with the United States. This may be a great way to globally benefit. All though this may be a stretch for us common people, there are many other ways we can prevent climate change. Many of these ways are just reducing simple everyday actions such as using less electricity. We can also help out by eating less meat and growing our own plants and vegetables. Lastly, one of the easiest ways is to limit transportation emissions. It is much better for our environment if we use busses, bikes, and hybrid vehicles. Slowly, but surely, we can save our world one step at a time!