Greenhouse gas on the rise

A report from NASA (National Aeronautics and Space Administration) said methane emission in the atmosphere is on the rise again across the globe.

The rise in Northern Hemispheric emissions may be a result of very warm conditions over Siberia throughout 2007, potentially leading to increased bacterial emissions from wetland areas. Potential cause for an increase in Southern Hemispheric emissions is still less clear.

“It is too early to tell whether this increase represents a return to sustained methane growth, or the beginning of a relatively short-lived anomaly,” researchers said.“Given that methane is about 25 times stronger as a greenhouse gas per metric ton of emissions than carbon dioxide, the situation will require careful monitoring in the near future to better understand methane’s impact on future climate change.”

Another worrisome news is the formation of nitrogen trifluoride (NF3), in the atmosphere, which is said to be thousands times more effective at warming the atmosphere than an equal mass of carbon dioxide, according to researchers at Scripps Institution of Oceanography at University of California, San Diego.

For the first time, Scripps researchers were able to measure NF3 in the atmosphere, which could not be detected using previous techniques. The new research shows the actual amount was 4,200 metric tons in 2006, which was previously estimated at 1,200 metric tons. In 2008, about 5,400 metric tons of the gas was in the atmosphere, a quantity that is increasing at about 11 percent per year, according to Scripps Institute.

NF3 is reportedly one of several gases used during the manufacture of liquid crystal flat-panel displays, thin-film photovoltaic cells and microcircuits. Many industries have used the gas in recent years as an alternative to perfluorocarbons, which are also potent greenhouse gases, because it was believed that no more than 2 percent of the NF3 used in these processes escaped into the atmosphere.

The Scripps scientists are recommended adding NF3 to the list of greenhouse gases regulated by Kyoto Protocol.

“Emissions of NF3 were thought to be so low that the gas was not considered to be a significant potential contributor to global warming,” the researchers said.

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