TIME climate change

New Methane Measurements Suggest Pollution is Worse Than Researchers Thought

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Methane can have a major effect on global warming

A new study has found that a device widely used to detect methane gas may fail to capture the full scale of leakages, resulting in chronic underestimates of the potent greenhouse gas.

University of Texas researchers identified a pattern of measurement errors from the Bacharach Hi-Flow Sampler, a device widely deployed at natural gas facilities, which the Environmental Protection Agency uses to collect nationwide data on methane emissions. The device switches between two sensors that measure low and high intensity leakages. Researchers found the device frequently malfunctioned in the handoff, resulting in “systematically underestimated emissions.”

The study was published Tuesday in the journal Energy Science & Engineering.

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