Most experts believed that by focusing in controlling toxic emissions of carbon dioxide, is the way to combat climate change, but actually the more potent greenhouse gas is methane, even more effective at trapping heat in Earth’s atmosphere.
Now, thanks to a new invented device, scientists are sniffing out the origins of harmful methane, assisting them to have a better understanding on its role in warming the planet.
Methane gas comes from a variety of places, both natural and man-made. They range from lakes and swamps, natural-gas pipelines and deep-sea vents, to livestock and even damming beavers.
Researchers from MIT are now, along with teams from the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution and the University of Toronto, have developed a breakthrough instrument that can precisely and rapidly analyze samples of environmental methane to determine how the gas was formed.
This new approach relies on the ratio of methane isotopes and is called tunable infrared laser direct absorption spectroscopy. This “fingerprint” allow scientists to differentiate between two common sources of methane: thermogenic and microbial.
Thermogenic origin is when organic matter buried deep within the Earth decays to methane at extremely high temperatures.
While Microbial sources, on the other hand, refer to microorganisms that typically live in wetlands or the guts of animals, like cows, which produce methane as a metabolic byproduct.
The team has collected samples of methane from different settings such as lakes, swamps, and natural gas reservoirs, the digestive tracts of cows, and deep ancient groundwater, as well as methane made by microbes in the lab.
Yes, methane is present almost everywhere. It’s one of the gas by product of living beings. It’s not therefore to find in in abundance in many places where there are livings inhabiting such places. It’s said to have been detected in Mars, a sign of presence of life there.