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Washington's Exploding Manholes Explained? 112

sciencehabit writes "Researchers who mapped methane concentrations on the streets of the nation's capital found natural gas leaks everywhere, at concentrations of up to 50 times the normal background levels. The leaking gas wastes resources, enhances ozone production, and exacerbates global warming—not to mention powering the city's infamous exploding manholes. Most of the natural gas we burn for heat and on stovetops in the United States is methane, a simple carbon atom surrounded by four hydrogens. Carbon dioxide gets more press, but methane is the more powerful agent of global warming, 21 times more effective than carbon dioxide at trapping heat in the atmosphere. And methane levels are rising fast. Methane levels in the atmosphere were just 650 parts per billion a century ago, versus 1800 ppb today."
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Washington's Exploding Manholes Explained?

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  • by AlphaWolf_HK ( 692722 ) on Wednesday March 27, 2013 @02:36AM (#43288769)

    Fun fact: Water vapor makes up 98% of the greenhouse effect. []

  • by nblender ( 741424 ) on Wednesday March 27, 2013 @07:49AM (#43290119)

    I watched a youtube video a while back from a leading researcher who outlined their methods of data collection and analysis. In the video he plotted atmospheric methane levels and showed how methane was steadily increasing until the collapse of the soviet union at which point levels fell dramatically. The explanation offered was that at that time, the gas pipelines to europe had become privately owned forcing accountants to discover that "gas in" was way less than "gas out" at the other end so there was a big campaign to fix the many pipeline leaks that were ignored during communist rule.

    I shudder to think how many other gas pipelines around the world are leaking...

1 Mole = 007 Secret Agents