WT environmental science professor contributes to major study on methane emissions – The PRAIRIE

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Copy by Chip Chandler, 806-651-2124, [email protected]

CANYON, Texas – An assistant professor of environmental science at West Texas A&M University helped examine weather conditions for a major new study on methane emissions.

Dr Erik T. Crosman of WT’s Department of Life, Earth and Environmental Sciences in the Paul Engler College of Agriculture and Natural Sciences was one of the many contributors to a study published on November 16 in Scientific reports and funded by the Climate Program Office and its Atmospheric Chemistry, Carbon Cycle and Climate program.

The study from the methane monitoring site in Utah’s Uinta Basin has tracked emissions from oil and gas wells since 2015. During that time, emissions have halved, but leaks of methane still occurs.

“Our work in the Uinta Basin shows that methane emissions can change over several years,” said Professor John Lin of the Department of Atmospheric Sciences at the University of Utah, “and it’s important to bring a long-term perspective and monitor these emissions over several years as well.

“Earth has only one atmosphere,” said associate research professor Seth Lyman, director of the Bingham Research Center at Utah State University’s Uintah Basin campus, “and emissions in one area can have an impact on air quality and climate around the world.Oil and natural gas installations are not distributed evenly across the state or around the world, but the climate impacts of fossil fuels are not dependent on the climate. location of broadcasts.

Crosman analyzed complex terrain meteorology, or mountain weather, for the study.

“The Uinta Basin is a deep, enclosed basin that exhibits unique complex terrain weather conditions, which is one of my areas of research,” said Crosman. “My main contribution to this research was to analyze weather data to make sure we could clearly understand the impact of complex field weather conditions on the observed variability of methane. “

Understanding the natural variability of weather conditions helps quantify changes in human-made emissions, Crosman said.

“My research contributions showed that the average weather variability over the time periods analyzed was relatively low and thus enhanced the study’s ability to quantify changes in emissions over a multi-year period,” said Crosman.

Methane is a powerful greenhouse gas, with about 85 times more global warming potential than carbon dioxide in the first 20 years it is in the atmosphere. Methane has enormous potential to absorb infrared energy, which it then redirects to the Earth’s surface, trapping heat and warming the planet.

Methane is the “gas” part of oil and gas production. Because it is difficult to keep every component of the gas production process airtight, as the researchers explained in a University of Utah press release, methane can escape from wells, pipelines, anywhere along the way.

The study found that the leak rate remained constant and high, despite the decline in natural gas production. Beyond the climatic implications, methane leaks are wasted energy (around three to five percent of all energy produced in the basin, according to the study’s estimates), which increases costs for farmers. companies, the researchers said in the University of Utah statement.

Crosman has worked collaboratively with scientists in Utah on a number of air quality and greenhouse gas studies that date back to his time as a research professor at the University of the ‘Utah before coming to WT in 2019.

As a result of that study, Crosman said he hopes other oil and gas regions such as the Permian Basin here in West Texas will be inspired to conduct their own ongoing monitoring.

“We need a more detailed understanding of the evolution of methane emissions, and observations like the ones we have conducted in the Uinta Basin are helping to fill these gaps,” said Crosman.

The focus on research with regional impact is a key part of the University’s long-term plan, WT 125: From Panhandle to the World. This plan is fueled by the historic $ 125 million a west extensive fundraising campaign.

About West Texas A&M University

WT is located in Canyon, Texas on a 342-acre residential campus. Founded in 1910, the University has been part of the Texas A&M University System since 1990. WT, an institution serving Hispanics since 2016, has approximately 10,000 enrollments and offers 60 undergraduate programs, 40 masters and two doctorates. The university is also home to the Panhandle-Plains Historical Museum, the state’s largest history museum and one of the Southwest’s finest art collections. The Buffaloes are members of the NCAA Division II Lone Star Conference and offer 14 men’s and women’s track and field programs.

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