A new map of global methane plumes reveals pipelines are spilling far more of the powerful pollutant than countries are reporting.
Methane is a potent greenhouse gas, with a heat-trapping capacity 30 times higher than carbon dioxide, even though it doesn’t last as long in the atmosphere.
An estimated one-quarter of humans’ methane emissions come from extracting coal, oil, and natural gas for fuel. Most of these hotspots — 1,200 of them, primarily in the US and western Asia — are linked to fossil-fuel extraction operations, like oil and gas pipelines, like those in the U.S. and Canada — are doing it on a daily basis, researchers say.
Researchers estimate that human activities could be emitting twice as much methane as governments have reported in the past year as they have reported to the researchers.