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Unexplained leak in two Russian gas pipelines in the Baltic Sea is emitting greenhouse gases, raising concerns that disruption could lead to climate disasters, but to what extent is still unknown.

Neither pipeline was operational, but both contained natural gas. It is composed primarily of methane, a powerful greenhouse gas that is his second largest contributor to climate change after CO2.

“There are many uncertainties, but if these pipelines fail, the climate impact could be devastating and even unprecedented,” said the nonprofit Clean Air Task Force. Senior scientist and atmospheric chemist David McCabe said.

McCabe and other emissions experts told Reuters that given uncertainties about factors such as the temperature of the gas in the pipeline, how fast it leaks, and how much gas is absorbed by microbes, the size of the leak could be quantified. He said it is not yet possible to assess. Underwater before surfacing.

But both Nord Stream pipelines contained mostly methane, so “the potential for large-scale, highly toxic emissions events is of great concern,” McCabe said.

Over a 20-year timeframe, methane has over 80 times the global warming effect of carbon dioxide, and is approximately 30 times more effective over 100 years. Scientists say sharply reducing methane emissions over the next few years will be an important means of curbing climate change.

difficult to quantify

Jasmine Cooper, Research Associate at the Institute for Sustainable Gases at Imperial College London, said that gas reaching the atmosphere, especially given the paucity of existing data on leaks from undersea pipelines. He said it would be difficult to quantify the amount of

“Gazprom will probably make an estimate based on gas throughput, but as for the amount of gas/methane emitted into the atmosphere … we need to send a team now to measure and monitor,” he said. She said she owns a Russian gas company.

Methane leaks from onshore gas leaks can be detected by a growing network of special satellites, but the different reflection of light on water makes it difficult to analyze offshore leaks using satellites. Yes, says Christian Lelong, satellite data’s director of climate solutions. Kairos company.

Flyovers using planes or drones could be alternative solutions, analysts say.

“Conservative estimates” based on available data suggest that at the time of the initial rupture, pressure and flow decreased over time, and the leak released more than 500 tons of methane per hour. says Jean-Francois Gauthier, vice president of measurement. Commercial methane measurement satellite company GHGSat.

By comparison, the massive Aliso Canyon gas leak in the United States in 2016 released about 50 tons of methane per hour at its peak. “So this will be an order of magnitude bigger,” said Gautier. Nordstream gas leak raises climate concerns, but its impact is difficult to quantify

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