What’s causing the hot spot?

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What’s causing the hot spot?

At least 75 researchers study methane leaks in Four Corners
What is methane, and is it dangerous?

DENVER – Scientists are investigating a methane “hot spot” in the Four Corners. But what is there to be concerned about?
This simple molecule – made up of one carbon and four hydrogen atoms – strongly absorbs infrared radiation, much more so than carbon dioxide. While methane is not believed to be overly dangerous to human health, it adds to climate change.
“This means when you put more of it in the atmosphere, it acts as a greenhouse gas, which leads to warmer surface temperatures,” said Eric Kort, a professor of atmospheric science at the University of Michigan, who has been working on the Four Corners investigation since its inception. Kort has a background in measuring greenhouse gases.
Methane has a lifetime in the atmosphere of about nine years. When methane is emitted, it reacts chemically in the atmosphere and is turned into carbon dioxide.
What’s significant is that a pound of emitted methane is roughly equivalent to emitting many more pounds of carbon dioxide. Over 100 years, 1 pound of methane is equivalent to about 30 pounds of carbon dioxide.
“The opportunity to reduce methane emissions could help in the short-term at reducing warming,” Kort said. “A reduction of emissions would have an impact more quickly.”
pmarcus@ durangoherald.com

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