Extreme methane concentrations in the air

Researchers at the Norwegian Institute for Air Research (NILU) have estimated that the total methane leaks from the Nord Stream gas pipes could be at least 40,000 tonnes – which is more than double the Norwegian national annual methane emissions from the oil and gas industry.

On Tuesday, measurements from the Birkenes observatory in Agder, as well as several measuring stations in Sweden, showed extreme methane concentrations in the air, NILU writes on its website.

– We have never before seen anything similar at any of our observatories, says senior researcher Cathrine Lund Myhre.

– Corresponds to eight months of Danish CO2 emissions

Twice as big

Researchers at NILU have calculated a preliminary estimate of a possible gas emission volume over 24 hours based on the size of the pipeline.

– With many conservative reservations about the actual pressure in the pipes and the release rate, we find that at least 40,000 tonnes of methane may have been released into the sea and atmosphere, says researcher Stephen Matthew Platt.

According to Statistics Norway (SSB), the Norwegian national annual methane emission from the oil and gas industry is 17,000 tonnes. According to NILU, the volume of this methane gas emission is therefore well over twice as large.

According to NRK, the emissions correspond to an increase in the concentration of methane in the atmosphere of around 20 per cent.

– These are record high levels, we have never seen anything like this before in Norway and Sweden, says Platt to the channel.

MEASUREMENTS: On Tuesday, measurements from the Birkenes observatory in Agder, as well as several measuring stations in Sweden, showed extreme methane concentrations in the air. Photo: Norwegian Institute for Air Research
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Towards Svalbard

Based on the researchers’ estimated total emissions from the Nord Stream pipes, the methane cloud will move across the Nordic region.

– In a few days we expect to see the measured methane levels also rise at the Zeppelin observatory on Svalbard, says Platt.

Such a large methane leak is very dramatic, but Platt points out that methane is not very toxic. Even in the quantities that are now spreading in the atmosphere over large parts of southern Scandinavia, it poses no health risk to humans or animals, according to NILU.

The article is in Norwegian

Tags: Extreme methane concentrations air

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