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Thu Jun 4, 2015, 03:56 PM

Why is there a huge methane hotspot in the American Southwest?

Why is there a huge methane hotspot in the American Southwest?
BY Laura Santhanam June 3, 2015 at 12:40 PM EDT



LEAKING METHANE — An image from a thermal camera as seen on a laptop screen shows a storage tank spewing a significant amount of methane gas next to a natural gas facility near Aztec, New Mexico. The camera is operated by Andrew Thorpe of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory. Photo by Shaun Stanley

The Four Corners region of the southwest United States is a magnificent, otherworldly place, marked by red rock vistas, ancient cliff dwellings and sweeping blue sky. The names alone paint a picture of the landscape: The Painted Desert. The Petrified Forest. Monument Valley.

But billowing above the rust-colored earth is the country’s largest concentration of methane, according to satellite data. That’s because this spot where Utah, Colorado, Arizona and New Mexico meet is also home to one of the nation’s most productive natural gas fields and coalbed methane basins. About 10 percent of the country’s estimated methane emissions from natural gas is found in this region, according to recent scientific research and the Environmental Protection Agency.

Methane is odorless, colorless and invisible to the naked eye. Following carbon dioxide, methane ranks as the second most prevalent greenhouse gas emitted by human activity in the United States. But in the short term, atmospheric methane is more than 100 times more potent than carbon dioxide at holding the sun’s heat, according to Colm Sweeney, the lead scientist for the NOAA Earth System Research Lab Aircraft Program.

“It’s a very strong greenhouse gas and traps heat really effectively,” he said. “It’s like putting an inch of insulation in your attic versus putting 100 inches of insulation in your attic with the same amount of CO2.”

More:
http://www.pbs.org/newshour/updates/huge-methane-hotspot-american-southwest/

9 replies, 1062 views

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Reply Why is there a huge methane hotspot in the American Southwest? (Original post)
Judi Lynn Jun 2015 OP
AtheistCrusader Jun 2015 #1
63splitwindow Jun 2015 #2
Warpy Jun 2015 #3
OKIsItJustMe Jun 2015 #4
Warpy Jun 2015 #5
happyslug Jun 2015 #7
happyslug Jun 2015 #9
CentralMass Jun 2015 #6
Bill USA Jun 2015 #8

Response to Judi Lynn (Original post)

Thu Jun 4, 2015, 04:14 PM

1. Pigs, cows, chickens, and their silage systems.

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Response to Judi Lynn (Original post)

Thu Jun 4, 2015, 04:18 PM

2. source: Arizona's brand of con wingnuts? nt

 

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Response to Judi Lynn (Original post)

Thu Jun 4, 2015, 04:35 PM

3. That sort of leaky tank spew is certainly part of it but not the whole story

because a huge area around the Four Corners is the hot spot. The whole area is a huge methane basin where a lot of the gas is tapped.

?itok=1xqINhOr

It's not all coming from leaky wells and tanks. Part of it has to be natural, methane leaking upward through the soft sedimentary rock.

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Response to Warpy (Reply #3)

Thu Jun 4, 2015, 05:00 PM

4. Four Corners methane hotspot points to coal-related sources

http://lanl.gov/discover/news-release-archive/2014/October/10.13-methane-hotspot.php
[font face=Serif][font size=5]Four Corners methane hotspot points to coal-related sources[/font]

[font size=4]Methane is very efficient at trapping heat in the atmosphere and, like carbon dioxide, it contributes to global warming.[/font]

October 14, 2014

[font size=4]Methane detected 3 times larger than predicted using EPA inventory[/font]

[font size=3]LOS ALAMOS, N.M., Oct. 14, 2014—A large, persistent methane hot spot has existed over the Four Corners area of the US Southwest for almost a decade, confirmed by remote regional-scale ground measurements of the gas.

“A detailed analysis indicates that methane emissions in the region are actually three times larger than reported by EPA. Our analysis demonstrates that current EPA inventories are missing huge methane sources in the region,” said Manvendra Dubey, a Los Alamos National Laboratory scientist on the project. “We attribute this hot spot to fugitive leaks from coal-bed methane that actually preceded recent concerns about potential emissions from fracking,” Dubey said.

A team of LANL, NASA and University of Michigan scientists reported these results in the journal Geophysical Research Letters. Methane is very efficient at trapping heat in the atmosphere and, like carbon dioxide, it contributes to global warming.

The hot spot, near the Four Corners intersection of Arizona, Colorado, New Mexico and Utah, covers about 2,500 square miles (6,500 square kilometers), or half the size of Connecticut. The Los Alamos measurement ground site was located near the community of Waterflow at the New Mexico Environment Department’s San Juan monitoring site, close to two coal-fired power plants. This is an extensive coal-mining region with historically large coal-bed methane production.

…[/font][/font]

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Response to OKIsItJustMe (Reply #4)

Thu Jun 4, 2015, 05:26 PM

5. Thanks!

Not surprising, they usually coexist, methane explosions being a major risk for mine disasters.

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Response to Warpy (Reply #3)

Thu Jun 4, 2015, 07:00 PM

7. You forgot the note with the map, showing dark for Methane, light almost no methane

 

This image shows methane hotspot, highlighted in red, in the Four Corners area. This map shows how much methane emissions varied from average background concentrations from 2003-2009 (dark colors are lower than average; lighter colors are higher. (AP Photo/NASA, JPL-Caltech, University of Michigan)


A map without saying what the colors mean is meaningless, i.e. Northern California gives off little methane, but Texas gives up a lot. The coal Country of Southern Illinois to Southwestern PA gives off a good bit, but as you go further east, south and north, methane production declines.

One more comment, the yellow dot in Southwestern PA looks like Washington County PA, a hot spot for Natural Gas (Methane) from the Marcellus shell. Washington County is where they are presently mining the Pittsburgh Seam of coal, and coal is noted for methane pockets.

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Response to Warpy (Reply #3)

Thu Jun 4, 2015, 09:13 PM

9. More on that spot, it been bad since at least 2002:

 

http://www.livescience.com/50439-solving-methane-hot-spot-mystery.html

https://fromthestyx.wordpress.com/2015/05/15/four-corners-raw-data-show-crazy-methane-spikes/


Also, the Four Corners is the No. 1 producer in the U.S. of coal-bed methane, a type of natural gas. And, according to the EPA, natural-gas emissions from the Four Corners approaches 10 percent of the nation’s total.

http://www.durangoherald.com/article/20150420/NEWS01/150429979/Methane-blob-goes-under-microscope--


Could be coal seam Methane:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vermejo_Park_Ranch

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Response to Judi Lynn (Original post)

Thu Jun 4, 2015, 06:10 PM

6. Was there a GOP convention ?

Last edited Thu Jun 4, 2015, 07:39 PM - Edit history (1)

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Response to Judi Lynn (Original post)

Thu Jun 4, 2015, 07:58 PM

8. how many fracking wells are there in the SW?

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