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Earth system scientists have found that molecular hydrogen (H2) in the atmosphere increased by 70%. A coalition between UC Irvine, NOAA, the University of Colorado Boulder, and UC San Diego, studied air confined in layers of Antarctic ice and snow and found that molecular hydrogen increased from 330 to 550 parts per billion in Earth’s atmosphere from the years 1852 through 2003.
Aging air is trapped in the perennial snowpack above an ice sheet, and sampling it gives us a highly accurate account of atmospheric composition over time. Our paleoatmospheric reconstruction of H2 levels has greatly enhanced our understanding of anthropogenic emissions since the beginning of the industrial revolution.
Stepping on the Gas
This growth of H2 in the atmosphere is the result of human activities, particularly the burning of fossil fuels. That said, there are sources of H2 we haven’t located. Patterson continued:
Government policies on tailpipe emissions have led to a decrease in carbon monoxide in the atmosphere, so we should have expected to see the same impact on molecular hydrogen, but that appears to not be the case. There’s no evidence that atmospheric molecular hydrogen emissions decreased in the 20th century, so we are likely underestimating nonautomotive sources of the gas.
This week is Climate Week NYC, an annual event hosted by The Climate Group and the United Nations, in partnership with the COP26 and the City of New York. For one week, from September 20-26, experts will be hosting panels and conversations about all things climate, and you can follow along at home via Facebook […]
By Natasha Lasky, ODP Staff Writer A new study titled, Flying blind: The glaring absence of climate risks in financial reporting, from Carbon Tracker and the Climate Accounting Project (CAP) showed that 107 global businesses that work in high-emissions fields like oil and gas firms, construction, car manufacturers, and aviation businesses, have not been transparent […]
By Amy Lupica, ODP Daily Editor New research published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences suggests that without the world’s complex ecosystems and wildlife, human activity would have already pushed the global average temperature past 1.5 degrees Celsius. Findings from scientists working with Conservation International (CI) spotlight the role forests, oceans, and more […]
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