Climate effects of explosions at Nord Stream turned out to be negligible

(ORDO NEWS) — Chinese scientists have estimated an additional increase in global temperatures associated with methane emissions from damaged offshore gas pipelines.

It turned out to be negligible, especially against the backdrop of the impact that ordinary emissions from the oil and gas industry have.

An accident occurred on the Nord Stream and Nord Stream 2 gas pipelines on September 26, 2022, which was soon recognized as a sabotage.

It led to large-scale emissions of methane into the Baltic Sea, and from it into the atmosphere.

Methane is considered to be a powerful greenhouse gas that can lead to noticeable heating of the atmosphere and stimulate global warming.

The contribution that the Nord Stream incident made to the state of the climate was assessed by scientists from the Institute of Atmospheric Physics of the Chinese Academy of Sciences.

Xiaolong Chen and Tianjun Zhou relied on open data on the scale of emissions from damaged gas pipelines. Initial figures were as high as 500,000 tons, but soon a more precise analysis was made, including using satellite data, and he lowered the estimate to about 220,000 tons.

Nevertheless, this is a very high figure, which makes the incident the largest single release of anthropogenic methane in history.

On the other hand, according to the latest, Sixth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC AR6), emissions from Nord Stream are negligible.

So, in the period from 2008 to 2017, the oil and gas industry annually emitted 70 million tons of methane into the atmosphere.

The amount of gas associated with the Nord Stream accident is comparable to these emissions over the course of just one day.

In addition, Chen and Zhou estimated the additional rise in global temperatures that the consequences of that diversion created.

Such calculations are especially complex, since they require taking into account many factors, including the dynamics of the input and output of gases from the atmosphere.

For example, methane’s greenhouse effect is much stronger than that of carbon dioxide, but it interacts with hydroxyl and other radicals in the atmosphere and stays there for only about ten years.

Calculations have shown that over a 20-year horizon, the contribution of methane emitted during the accident will be equivalent to 20.6 million tons of carbon dioxide, that is, an increase in its content in the atmosphere by 0.0026 particles per million.

The corresponding increase in global temperature is only 0.000018 °C. “Such a weak warming cannot affect either ecosystems or humanity,” the authors of the work concluded .

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