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20th June 2024 (10 Topics)

Nord Stream Leaks

Context

Recent research has examined the aftermath of methane release resulting from explosions damaging the Nord Stream pipelines in September 2022. An estimated 10,000 to 50,000 tonnes of methane dissolved in the surrounding seawater post-explosion.

About Nord Stream Pipeline

  • Nord Stream 1 (NS1) and Nord Stream 2 (NS2), constructed by Russia's Gazprom, span 1,200 km across the Baltic Sea, each consisting of two large pipes.
  • They were designed to transport 110 billion cubic meters of natural gas annually from Russia to Germany.
  • 2022 Explosions: In September 2022, explosions damaged both NS1 and NS2 at multiple points in Swedish and Danish waters, rendering them non-operational. This incident raised significant environmental concerns due to the release of methane.

Key-highlights of the Study

  • The methane release from the Nord Stream explosions is among the largest documented from such events, underscoring its environmental significance.
  • During the incident, methane emissions from the breaches reached 79 tonnes per hour into the atmosphere, totaling approximately 40,000 tonnes over seven days.
  • Methane concentrations in seawater ranging from 10,000 to 55,000 metric tonnes. This poses potential risks to microbial ecosystems and could influence the growth of methane-consuming bacteria.

Fact Box: About Methane and its Emission

  • Methane (CH4) is the primary component of natural gas and a potent greenhouse gas (GHG).
  • Upon release into the atmosphere, methane acts as a greenhouse gas by trapping heat. This process is crucial as it helps regulate Earth's temperature, preventing it from falling to freezing levels naturally.
  • Comparative Impact: Methane, though short-lived compared to carbon dioxide (CO2), is significantly more effective at trapping heat. Over a 100-year period, methane has a global warming potential (GWP) of 28 to 36 times that of CO2.
  • Impact of Methane
    • Global Warming: Methane absorbs energy and preventing it from escaping Earth's atmosphere
    • Environmental Effects: It reacts with hydroxyl radicals (OH) and oxidizes into water vapor and CO2, indirectly contributing to global warming and reducing the atmosphere's ability to cleanse other pollutants.
    • Air Quality and Health: It contributes to ozone formation, which decreases air quality and poses health risks such as respiratory issues and reduced crop yields.

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