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Study: Nord Stream gas leak will not increase global warming

The pipelines were sabotaged on September 26. President Vladimir Putin blamed the West.

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By Mark Waghorn via SWNS

The Nord Stream gas leak that released 220,000 tons of methane will not increase global warming, according to new research.

Eruptions from pipelines 1 and 2 that run from Russia to Germany under the Baltic Sea had a "negligible impact" on the climate, according to the report.

The Kremlin has denied suggestions it was behind them. Russian President Vladimir Putin has blamed the West.

Methane is the most dangerous greenhouse gas after CO2. Record levels are being spewed into the atmosphere by oil and gas companies.

The pipelines were sabotaged on 26 September. Gases, mainly methane, escaped into the ocean and were released into the atmosphere.

Now a Chinese team has calculated it would be equivalent to 20.6 million tons of CO2 - over a period of 20 years.

This would raise the atmospheric concentration by only 0.0026 ppm (parts per million) - minimal compared to the impact of traffic and industry.

First author Dr. Xiaolong Chen, of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, said: "Such a tiny warming cannot be perceived in ecosystems or human society."

It was originally feared up to 500,000 tons of methane poured out. But it later became clear the true figure was much less.

(Wikimedia Commons)

Another Chinese team worked out a more accurate figure of 220,000 by drawing upon multiple observations, including satellite images.

It was still the largest methane emission in a single event in human history.

It was more than twice the Aliso Canyon accident in California in 2015 when a leaking gas well outside Los Angeles caused thousands to relocate.

But Dr. Chen and colleagues said last year's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change's Sixth Assessment Report (IPCC AR6) last year puts the disaster in context.

It found annual emissions of methane from the oil and gas sectors amounted to as much as 70 million tons between 2008 and 2017.

The leaked methane from the Nord Stream pipelines would be equivalent to only one day's worth.

But Dr. Chen said: "Still, anthropogenic methane has been the second largest driver of global warming, and is emitted from multiple sectors of agriculture and industry.

"If we are going to achieve the warming target of below 1.5℃ or 2℃ set out in the Paris Agreement, damage to infrastructure such as this should be avoided so we can better control and reduce methane emissions."

The IPCC AR6 report also highlighted methane in the atmosphere is gradually removed by reacting with certain chemicals.

This results in an approximate 10-year survival which is short compared to CO2. The climatic impact depends on the time horizon.

So the researchers determined the quantity of heat accumulated per unit mass of methane in the next two decades is 82.5 times that of CO2.

Armed with this information, they were able to calculate the climatic impact of the leaked methane.

Experts say the scale of the damage and the fact that the leaks are far from each other on two different pipelines indicate the act was intentional and well-orchestrated.

British defense sources believe the attack was premeditated and detonated from afar using underwater mines or other explosives.

The study is published in Advances in Atmospheric Sciences.

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