Climate: Is the California drought the new norm?

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California’s withering drought continues.

Study shows how global warming may very well lead to semi-permanent drought by mid-century

Staff Report

FRISCO — California’s crippling drought may be the new norm, according to scientists who studied the link between greenhouse gases, rising temperatures and multi-year period of record warmth and dryness.

The new study by Stanford researchers found that the worst droughts in California have historically occurred when conditions were both dry and warm, and that global warming is increasing the probability that dry and warm years will coincide.

The findings suggest that California could be entering an era when nearly every year that has low precipitation also has temperatures similar to or higher than 2013-2014, when the statewide average annual temperature was the warmest on record. The study was published in the March 2 issue of the journal of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Continue reading

New study takes nuanced look at methane leaks

In some gas fields, leak rates appear close to official estimates

Fracked nation.

Researchers try to quantify methane leakage in natural gas fields.

Staff Report

FRISCO — Boulder-based researchers have used thousands of detailed measurements taken during overflights to take a nuanced look at methane leaks from natural gas fields.

The findings show methane leaking at the rate of tens of thousands of pounds per hour in three major natural gas basins that span Texas, Louisiana, Arkansas and Pennsylvania. But the overall leak rate from those basins is only about one percent of gas production there — lower than leak rates measured in other gas fields, and in line with federal estimates. Continue reading

Environment: EPA says Keystone XL pipeline could add 1.37 billion tons of ‘extra’ greenhouse gases to atmosphere

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Oil price drop should be bigger factor in evaluations

By Bob Berwyn

FRISCO — In case there was ever any doubt (and there wasn’t), the EPA this week made it clear that construction of the Keystone XL Pipeline would result in a significant increase in greenhouse gas emissions.

The agency’s formal comment letter to the State Department focused on shifting market conditions, including the recent dip in oil prices, pointed out that the overall analysis for the pipeline failure to explore alternative routes that would not put critical land and water resources at risk. Continue reading

Climate: Carbon capture test reaches milestone

Can carbon capture help mitigate the climate impacts of carbon dioxide?

Can carbon and underground storage capture help mitigate the climate impacts of carbon dioxide?

Heat-trapping greenhouse gas trapped in salt formation beneath shale layer

Staff Report

FRISCO — Engineers in the Midwest say they’ve managed to capture and store 1 million metric tons of CO2 in underground rock and mineral formations, helping to test the long-term viability of carbon-capture technology.

The project is part of the development phase of the Department’s Regional Carbon Sequestration Partnerships initiative, which is helping develop and deploy carbon capture and storage technologies across the country. Continue reading

Climate: Colorado’s fossil fuel dinosaurs attack Obama over proposed new methane rules

Proposal targets 40-45 percent cuts by 2015

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Colorado fracking operations waste significant amounts of methane each year through leakage and flaring. The Obama wants to invest in adoption of new capture technologies to help reduce methane emissions.

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More methane means more global warming.

By Bob Berwyn

FRISCO — Colorado’s reactionary oil and gas industry once again showed its true colors with a nasty reaction to this week’s White House announcement on methane.

When President Obama said his administration will find ways to cut methane emissions from the oil and gas sector by 40-45 percent from 2012 levels by 2025, the fossil fuel dinosaurs roared that it’s nothing but more red tape, showing how they still don’t recognize the existential threat posed by global warming. Continue reading

Beaver ponds seen as source of heat-trapping methane

I got pretty close to the Beaver, but the light wasn't ideal for an animal portrait.

Beavers are thriving — and as their populations grow, so do emissions of heat-trapping methane from their ponds. 

Shallow ponds and wetlands provide ideal conditions for methanogenesis

Staff Report

FRISCO — Long praised — and sometimes faulted — for their industrious nature, beavers may also play a role in the global greenhouse gas equation. As their populations have increased in the past 100 years, hey have created conditions for heat-trapping methane gas to be generated in this shallow standing water, and the gas is subsequently released into the atmosphere.

Canadian researchers say the amount of greenhouse gases released from beaver ponds today is 200 time more than in 1900, when the animals had nearly been eradicated by trappers. The study, published in the journal AMBIO², tried to quantify how growth in beaver numbers in Eurasia and the Americas could be having on methane emissions. Continue reading

Climate: Study eyes seafloor methane releases

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More methane means more global warming.

Thin permafrost cap at risk as oceans warm

Staff Report

FRISCO — Arctic scientists say a thin cap of seafloor permafrost that caps potent greenhouse gases will probably start to leak more as the oceans warm.

The research focused on the Kara Sea near Siberia’s Yamal Peninsula, where recent permafrost sinkholes have triggered concerns about increasing releases of methane. Continue reading

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