Methane - CH4
Methane (CH4) is a colourless and odourless gas that dissolves poorly in water and is lighter than air.
What is methane?
Methane is a highly flammable gas formed mainly in the tripe of ruminant farm animals such as cows, sheep and goats. These animals then expel the gas through their breath, burping and farting. As we eat more and more dairy and meat worldwide, the number of ruminants is increasing enormously, which has a major impact on the amount of methane in the atmosphere. In addition to livestock farming, methane is released during the burning of fossil fuels, rice cultivation, from landfills, in wet areas such as swamps and peat lands, in coal mines and in gas pipeline leaks for natural gas. Because methane is a powerful greenhouse gas, it has a major impact on climate change. By way of comparison, methane retains more than 20 times more heat than CO2, but has a shorter life span.
What is the problem of methane?
Over the last 150 years, the concentration of methane in the atmosphere has more than doubled. Methane plays a major role in global warming; it is responsible for 20 to 30% of rising temperatures. This has consequences for nature and human health and safety.
What methane does in nature
As a greenhouse gas, methane contributes to global warming. As a result of this climate change, ice caps are melting, sea levels are rising and the weather is becoming more extreme. As a result, we are faced with more heavy showers with associated floods, and more heat waves. In nature, we can already see that some plants are growing longer, insect infestations are increasing, and many birds are threatened with extinction by seasonal changes and the melting of the snow caps. In addition, methane contributes to the formation of ozone, which in turn is harmful to nature and human health.
What methane does to human health
Methane is an oxygen displacer. Inhaling high concentrations of methane can cause shortness of breath, headaches, drowsiness and unconsciousness. In addition, the changing climate, to which methane contributes to, also has a detrimental effect on our health. Air pollution can cause respiratory problems, humidity and extra rainfall give infectious diseases more space, and there can be a shortage of drinking water or food.
How does satellite data help with the methane problem?
Satellite data can indicate the concentration of methane in the air. It is also possible to map important methane sources, such as gas leaks and livestock farming. Based on these data, methane emissions can be reduced in a more targeted way. Satellite data can also be used to monitor the concentration of methane in the air in a particular area, such as a meadow. Based on this data, new strategies can be developed to reduce methane emissions and it can be recorded whether certain measures have an effect.
- Methane (CH4) is a colourless and odourless gas.
- Methane is mainly formed in the tripe of ruminant farm animals such as cows, sheep and goats.
- Methane is also released during the burning of fossil fuels, the cultivation of rice, from landfill sites, and from leaking gas pipelines for natural gas.
- Because methane is a powerful greenhouse gas, it has a major effect on climate change.
- Over the past 150 years, the concentration of methane in the atmosphere has more than doubled.
- Inhaling high concentrations of methane can cause shortness of breath, headaches, drowsiness and unconsciousness.
- Satellite data can indicate the concentration of methane in the air, as well as important sources of methane.