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Tag: Methane

Nasa’s Curiosity Mars rover senses methane spike

Nasa’s Curiosity Mars rover senses methane spike

Science
The American space agency's Mars rover Curiosity has recorded its largest measurement yet of methane.The robot frequently "sniffs" the Red Planet for the gas but has never before seen so high a concentration - of 21 parts per billion (ppb).The observations are fascinating because on Earth, methane is produced in large part by living things.That's not necessarily the case on Mars; geological processes are very capable of making it as well.Nonetheless, the latest data will heighten interest in the topic.Through the course of its mission, Curiosity has noticed a number of spikes in methane, and it senses a background level that appears to have a seasonal pattern to it.But although the robot's big onboard chemistry lab - the Sample A...
Scientists find tanner crabs feeding on seafloor methane vent

Scientists find tanner crabs feeding on seafloor methane vent

Science
Feb. 20 (UPI) -- Marine biologists have discovered a group of tanner crabs feeding vigorously on a seafloor methane seep located off the coast of British Columbia. Tanner crabs are a genus of crabs sometimes referred to as queen crabs or spider crabs. All seven species of the Chionoecetes genus are often marketed as "snow crabs" in seafood markets. The discovery marks the first time a commercially harvested marine species has been observed feeding on a methane vent. Bottom-feeders like tanner crabs -- and the entirety of the ocean floor food chain -- were thought to rely exclusively on phytoplankton descending through the water column, but the latest research suggests seafloor ecosystems host diverse sources of energy and basal nutrition. "Tanner crabs likely are not the only species to g...
Early spring rains bring rise in methane emissions across Alaska

Early spring rains bring rise in methane emissions across Alaska

Science
Feb. 4 (UPI) -- Analysis of a bog in Alaska suggests early spring rains cause permafrost to thaw and boosts methane emissions. According to observations made by researchers at the University of Washington, a 2016 spike in early spring rainfall caused permafrost to melt three weeks earlier than usual. As a result, plants began growing and methane-producing microbes proliferated. The head start resulted in a 30 percent increase in methane released by the bog during 2016. "Early rainfall sent a slog of warm water moving into our bog," Rebecca Neumann, an associate professor of environmental engineering, said in a news release. "We believe microbes in the bog got excited because they were warmed up, so they released nutrients from the soil that allowed more plant growth. Methane production an...
Trump eases US methane rules as Colorado says state's work

Trump eases US methane rules as Colorado says state's work

Technology
The Trump administration is rolling back some U.S. regulations on climate-changing methane pollution, calling them expensive and burdensome, but Colorado says its rules are working — and they have industry support. Energy companies have found and repaired about 73,000 methane leaks since 2015 under a state-required oil field inspection program, according to the Colorado Air Pollution Control Division. The number of leaks fell by 52 percent, from more than 36,000 in 2015 to about 17,250 in 2017, according a state report released last week. Neither the government nor industry groups could say how much methane has been kept out of the atmosphere when the leaks were fixed, citing the complexity of factors involved. But state officials said the sharp decline in the number of leaks shows...
Curiosity rover sees seasonal Mars methane swing

Curiosity rover sees seasonal Mars methane swing

Science
It may only be a very small part of Mars' atmosphere but methane waxes and wanes with the seasons, scientists say. The discovery made by the Curiosity rover is important because it helps narrow the likely sources of the gas. On Earth, those sources largely involve biological emissions - from wetlands, paddy fields, livestock and the like. No-one can yet tie a life signature to Mars' methane, but the nature of its seasonal behaviour probably rules out some geological explanations for it. "For the first time in the history of Mars methane measurements, we have something that's repeatable," said Dr Chris Webster, a US space agency (Nasa) scientist working on Curiosity. "It's like trying to find a fault on your car. If it's intermit...