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According to a new study by researchers from the University of Gothenburg, a significant portion of the methane gas released from the ruptured Nord Stream pipelines in the Baltic Sea last September never made it into the atmosphere.

About Methane: 

  • It is the primary component of natural gas, and is responsible for approximately a third of the warming we are experiencing today.
  • Characteristics of Methane
    • It is a colorless odorless gas, flammable water insoluble gas.
    • It is also known as marsh gas or methyl hydride.
    • It is easily ignited. The vapors are lighter than air. Under prolonged exposure to fire or intense heat the containers may rupture violently and rocket.
    • It is a powerful and short-lived greenhouse gas, with a lifetime of about a decade and Global Warming Potential about 80 times greater than that of carbon dioxide (CO2) during the 20 years after it is released into the atmosphere. 
  • The largest sources of methane are agriculture, fossil fuels, and decomposition of landfill waste.
  • Impacts
    • It harms human and ecosystem health.
    • Its emissions lead to ground-level ozone pollution which causes approximately a million premature deaths per year globally and reduces crop productivity and harms ecosystems.

Key facts about Baltic Sea

  • It is a semi-enclosed inland sea located in Northern Europe.
  • It is an arm of the North Atlantic Ocean, extending northward from the latitude of southern Denmark almost to the Arctic Circle and separating the Scandinavian Peninsula from the rest of continental Europe.
  • It has a coastline is shared by several countries, including Sweden, Poland, Lithuania, Latvia, Finland, Estonia, Germany, Denmark, and Russia.
  • It is connected to the White Sea via the White Sea Canal and to the North Sea’s German Bight via the Kiel Canal.
  • It connects to the Atlantic Ocean through the Danish Straits.
  • It contains three major gulfs: the Gulf of Bothnia to the north, the Gulf of Finland to the east, and the Gulf of Riga slightly to the south of that.

Q1: What is Global Greenhouse Gas Watch (GGGW)?

It is a new greenhouse gas (GHG) monitoring initiative of the World Meteorological Organisation (WMO). It will fill critical information gaps, providing an integrated, operational framework under all space-based and surface-based observing systems under one roof, along with modelling and data assimilation capabilities.

Source: Nord Stream pipeline leak: Methane released in Baltic Sea remains in water