Methane plume detected over southern Iraq last month – report

An Iraqi national flag flies in front of excess gas as its being burnt off in the newly opened section of an oil refinery in the Zubair oil field southwest of Basra in southern Iraq on March 3, 2016. (AFP)

SULAIMANI (ESTA) — Satellites detected a large release of methane gas over southern Iraq in August, Bloomberg news reported on Thursday.

Geoanalytics firm Kayrros SAS using European Space Agency satellite data spotted the methane cloud which was halfway between Baghdad Basra, according to Bloomberg.

Methane, which is the major component of natural gas, has more than 80 times the warming impact of carbon dioxide over the short term.

Scientists and the U.N. report on climate change have said reducing methane mission is one of the quickest ways to slow down global warming.

The rate of release was about 130 tons per hour, which approximately the same climate-warming impact as 6,500 U.K. cars running a year, Bloomberg reported.

Thiqar Oil Co., a regional producer, denied that its assets were the source of the release, the report said.

The Iraqi oil ministry has yet to confirm or deny the release of the methane gas.

Kayrros SAS also picked up a release in Iraq in June that may have lasted 24 hours, according to the report.

In four decades of climate negotiations, the world has focused intensely and exclusively on the most abundant climate-warming gas: carbon dioxide.

This year, scientists are urging a focus on methane as the planet’s best hope for staving off catastrophic global warming.

Scientists warn in a landmark report by the U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change released on August 9 that countries must make “strong, rapid and sustained reductions” in methane emissions in addition to slashing CO2 emissions.

While both methane and CO2 warm the atmosphere, the two greenhouse gases are not equal. A single CO2 molecule causes less warming than a methane molecule, but lingers for hundreds of years in the atmosphere whereas methane disappears within two decades, according to Reuters.

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