The research suggests that this methane has less carbon-13 relative to carbon-12 (denoting the weight of the carbon atom at the centre of the methane molecule) than does methane from conventional natural gas and other fossil fuels such as coal.
This carbon-13 signature means that since the use of high-volume hydraulic fracturing -- commonly called fracking -- shale gas has increased in its share of global natural gas production and has released more methane into the atmosphere, according to the paper's author, Robert Howarth, the David R. Atkinson Professor of Ecology and Environmental Biology at Cornell University in the US.
Two-thirds - Gas - Production - Decade - Gas
About two-thirds of all new gas production over the last decade has been shale gas produced in the United States and Canada, he said.
While atmospheric methane concentrations have been rising since 2008, the carbon composition of the methane has also changed. Methane from biological sources such as cows and wetlands have a low carbon-13 content -- compared to methane from most fossil fuels. Previous studies erroneously concluded that biological sources are the cause of the rising methane, Howarth said.
Carbon - Dioxide - Methane - Greenhouse - Gases
Carbon dioxide and methane are critical greenhouse gases, but they behave quite differently in the atmosphere. Carbon dioxide emitted today will influence the climate for centuries...
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