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Archive for April 17th, 2014

The March Hares and Rising CO2 at Mauna Loa

Posted by feww on April 17, 2014

Trends in Atmospheric CO2: Sky Is the Limit!

Up-to-date weekly average CO2 at Mauna Loa [Last updated: April 17, 2014]
Week beginning on April 6, 2014: 401.25 ppm
Weekly value from 1 year ago: 397.67 ppm
Weekly value from 10 years ago: 380.52 ppm

Recent Global CO2 [Last updated: April 8, 2014]
February 2014:     398.06 ppm
February 2013:     395.61 ppm

Recent Monthly Average Mauna Loa CO2
March 2014: 399.65 ppm
March 2013: 397.31 ppm

Last 5 days of preliminary daily average CO2
April 16 – 401.24
April 15 – 402.02
April 14 – 402.16
April 13 – 401.71
April 12 – 401.09


co2 at mauna loa

The graph shows recent monthly mean carbon dioxide measured at Mauna Loa Observatory, Hawaii. The last four complete years of the Mauna Loa CO2 record plus the current year are shown. Data are reported as a dry air mole fraction defined as the number of molecules of carbon dioxide divided by the number of all molecules in air, including CO2 itself, after water vapor has been removed. The mole fraction is expressed as parts per million (ppm). Example: 0.000400 is expressed as 400 ppm.

In the above figure, the dashed red line with diamond symbols represents the monthly mean values, centered on the middle of each month. The black line with the square symbols represents the same, after correction for the average seasonal cycle. The latter is determined as a moving average of SEVEN adjacent seasonal cycles centered on the month to be corrected, except for the first and last THREE and one-half years of the record, where the seasonal cycle has been averaged over the first and last SEVEN years, respectively.

The last year of data are still preliminary, pending recalibration of reference gases and other quality control checks. The Mauna Loa data are being obtained at an altitude of 3400 m in the northern subtropics, and may not be the same as the globally averaged CO2 concentration at the surface. Source: ESRL/NOAA



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Fracking Methane Emissions Hugely Underestimated by EPA: Study

Posted by feww on April 17, 2014


Methane emissions 1,000 higher than EPA estimates

Using an airborne laboratory for atmospheric research, researchers identified and quantified large sources of methane emissions over southwestern Pennsylvania in June 2012. They discovered that emissions rates were up to 1,000 times higher than those estimated by the EPA during the same time period.

“We identified a significant regional flux of methane over a large area of shale gas wells in southwestern Pennsylvania in the Marcellus formation and further identified several pads with high methane emissions,” said the study others. “These shale gas pads were identified as in the drilling process, a preproduction stage not previously associated with high methane emissions.”

The original sampling area (OSA) encompasses all of Green County, PA, most of Washington County, PA, and parts of Fayette County, PA, Marshall County, WV, and Ohio County, WV, for a total area of 2,844 km², the authors reported.

The authors identified 57,673 wells (see gray dots in below diagram) across the counties of interest.

“It is particularly noteworthy that large emissions were measured for wells in the drilling phase, in some cases 100 to 1,000 times greater than the inventory estimates,” said one of the report authors. “This indicates that there are processes occurring—e.g. emissions from coal seams during the drilling process—that are not captured in the inventory development process. This is another example pointing to the idea that a large fraction of the total emissions is coming from a small fraction of shale gas production components that are in an anomalous condition.”

The comparative impact of methane on climate change is more than 20 times greater than carbon dioxide over a 100-year period, according to EPA.

Toward a better understanding and quantification of methane emissions from shale gas development

Dana R. Caulton, doi: 10.1073/pnas.131654611


We identified a significant regional flux of methane over a large area of shale gas wells in southwestern Pennsylvania in the Marcellus formation and further identified several pads with high methane emissions. These shale gas pads were identified as in the drilling process, a preproduction stage not previously associated with high methane emissions. This work emphasizes the need for top-down identification and component level and event driven measurements of methane leaks to properly inventory the combined methane emissions of natural gas extraction and combustion to better define the impacts of our nation’s increasing reliance on natural gas to meet our energy needs.

ch4 ppm
Regional enhancement of methane at ∼240 m above ground level (AGL) on the morning of June 21. The dashed orange box represents the original sampling area (OSA), and the gray dots show well locations. Credit: Caulton et al.


The identification and quantification of methane emissions from natural gas production has become increasingly important owing to the increase in the natural gas component of the energy sector. An instrumented aircraft platform was used to identify large sources of methane and quantify emission rates in southwestern PA in June 2012. A large regional flux, 2.0–14 g CH4 s−1 km−2, was quantified for a ∼2,800-km2 area, which did not differ statistically from a bottom-up inventory, 2.3–4.6 g CH4 s−1 km−2. Large emissions averaging 34 g CH4/s per well were observed from seven well pads determined to be in the drilling phase, 2 to 3 orders of magnitude greater than US Environmental Protection Agency estimates for this operational phase. The emissions from these well pads, representing ∼1% of the total number of wells, account for 4–30% of the observed regional flux. More work is needed to determine all of the sources of methane emissions from natural gas production, to ascertain why these emissions occur and to evaluate their climate and atmospheric chemistry impacts.

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Crop Disasters Declared in Six States

Posted by feww on April 17, 2014



Drought, Excessive Rain, Freeze and Frost  Cause Crop Disasters across Dozens of Counties in 6 States

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has designated 52 Counties across six states—Arizona, California, Oklahoma, Alabama, Florida and Georgia—as crop disaster areas in four separate designations due to various disasters.

Drought Disaster in Arizona and California

USDA has designated five counties in Arizona and three counties in California as Crop Disaster Areas due to ongoing Drought. Those areas are

  • Arizona. La Paz, Maricopa, Mohave, Yavapai and Yuma counties.
  • California. Imperial, Riverside and San Bernardino counties.

Drought Disaster in Oklahoma

USDA has designated seven counties in Oklahoma as Crop Disaster Areas due to damages and losses caused by the drought.  Those areas are Blaine, Dewey, Caddo, Canadian, Custer, Kingfisher and Major counties.

Crop Disasters from Excessive Rain in Florida

USDA has designated nine counties in Florida as Crop Disaster Areas due to excessive rain that occurred from Jan. 1- March 14, 2014.

Those counties are Alachua, Bradford, Clay, Duval, Flagler, Marion, Putnam, St. Johns  and Volusia.

Crop Disasters Caused by Freeze and Frost

USDA has designated 24 counties in Florida as crop disaster areas due to freeze and frost that occurred from Jan. 7-31, 2014 (and presumably continues. The wording is ambiguous).

Those counties are Alachua, Baker, Bay, Bradford, Broward, Clay, Columbia, Duval, Gilchrist, Glades, Hendry, Holmes, Levy, Marion, Nassau, Okaloosa, Palm Beach, Walton, Martin, Putnam, Okeechobee, Santa Rosa, Union and Washington.

Farmers and ranchers in the following counties in Alabama and Georgia also qualify for natural disaster assistance because their counties are contiguous.

  • Alabama. Covington, Escambia and Geneva counties.
  • Georgia. Charlton County.

Drought Disasters 2014

Beginning January 10, 2014 USDA has declared at least 1,062 counties across 21 states as crop disaster areas. Most of those designations are due to drought.

  • Those states are Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Idaho, Kansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Nebraska, Nevada, New Mexico, New York, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Texas and Utah.

i. USDA trigger point for a countywide disaster declaration is 30 percent crop loss on at least one crop.

ii. The total number of counties designated as agricultural disaster areas includes both primary and contiguous disaster areas.

iii. A number of counties may have been designated crop disaster areas more than once due to multiple disasters.

iv. The U.S. has a total of 3,143 counties and county-equivalents.

v. The disaster designations posted above were approved by USDA on April 2, 2014.

Related Links

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FIRE-EARTH Bulletin NO. 87

Posted by feww on April 17, 2014


FIRE-EARTH Bulletin NO. 87 has been released.

Related links


No. of Days left: 692

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