Probes Map Methane ‘Hot Spot’

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Solving the Four Corners Mystery: Probes Map Methane 'Hot Spot'

The desert 4 Corners area comprises stunning landforms like Shiprock in New Mexico. It is also the positioning of an anomalous blob containing excessive ranges of methane.

Credit score: Wikimedia Commons


A methane “sizzling spot” over the 4 Corners area of the U.S. Southwest is present process critical scrutiny as scientists work to determine why ranges of the gasoline within the space are so excessive.


The mysterious methane was first detected from space, through a European Area Company satellite tv for pc that may measure this potent greenhouse gasoline. Researchers reported the invention in October within the journal Geophysical Analysis Letters, however could not clarify the place the additional methane was coming from. The “sizzling spot” continued from 2003 till a minimum of 2009. And the quantity of methane was vital, the researchers reported — equal to almost 10 p.c of all U.S. methane emissions from natural gas.


Now, a crew of researchers is tackling the thriller of the additional methane. The scientists will fly two Twin Otter plane over the 4 Corners space, the place the borders of Colorado, New Mexico, Utah and Arizona meet. These planes will carry two devices: the Subsequent-Technology Airborne Seen/Infrared Imaging Spectrometer (AVIRISng), which may detect and map methane in nice element, in keeping with NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory; and the Hyperspectral Thermal Emission Spectrometer (HyTES).


This second instrument is delicate to methane emissions and will probably be used to survey and measure suspected methane emissions websites. By combining the info from these two devices, the researchers hope to make maps that can present methane variations over each few ft of the area. In addition they plan to trace the emissions over a number of months to find out how climate circumstances affect methane ranges. [Gallery: See Images of Amazing Atlantic Methane Seeps]

A methane hot spot has been detected over the Four Corners region of the U.S. Southwest. (Yellow and red are higher than average; purple and blue are below average.)

A methane sizzling spot has been detected over the 4 Corners area of the U.S. Southwest. (Yellow and crimson are greater than common; purple and blue are beneath common.)

Credit score: NASA/JPL-Caltech/College of Michigan


“With all of the ground-based and airborne assets that the totally different teams are bringing to the area, we have now the distinctive probability to unequivocally resolve the 4 Corners thriller,” Christian Frankenberg, a scientist at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, said in a statement. (The brand new effort is a collaboration amongst JPL; the Cooperative Institute for Analysis in Environmental Sciences, or CIRES, in Boulder, Colorado; the Nationwide Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, or NOAA; and the College of Michigan, Ann Arbor.)


The path just isn’t totally chilly. The timing and persistence of the new spot suggests the methane could also be coming from gasoline extraction, coal mining, and coal-bed methane mining and processing within the area, the researchers reported of their paper on the invention within the Geophysical Analysis Letters journal. Naturally occurring gasoline seeps are one other risk, NASA stated.


If the methane sizzling spot is man-made, the measurements researchers make within the coming months over 4 Corners may assist scale back the emissions.


“If we will confirm the methane detected by the satellite tv for pc and establish its sources, decision-makers may have vital data for any actions they’re contemplating,” CIRES scientist Gabrielle Pétron stated within the assertion.


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