Explore NABS

The greenhouse-gas footprint of hydrofracking

Published On: 5/9/2011

A new study calculates the climate impact of natural gas extraction via ‘hydrofracking.'

 
The study, entitled ‘Methane and the greenhouse-gas footprint of natural gas from shale formations,’ was authored by Robert Howarth (Cornell University) and colleagues and published in the journal Climatic Change (DOI: 10.1007/s10584-011-0061-5). Hydraulic fracturing, or ‘hydrofracking’, is a process that uses large volumes of water, sand and additives to fracture underground rock formations to release oil and natural gas. Methane is a powerful greenhouse gas with a global warming potential that is far greater than that of carbon dioxide.

The study’s findings include:

Between 3.6-7.9% of the methane escapes into the atmosphere during shale-gas production due to venting and well leaks; this level is at least 30% higher than that released during conventional natural gas production.

On a 20-year time horizon, the greenhouse-gas footprint for shale gas is up to 43% higher than conventional natural gas, 50% greater than oil and 20% higher than coal for the same amount of energy produced by each of those other sources.

The researchers conclude that the “large greenhouse-gas footprint of shale gas undercuts the logic of its use as a bridging fuel over coming decades, if the goal is to reduce global warming.” The study’s authors encourage policymakers to account for the full greenhouse-gas footprint of unconventional gas as they chart the energy future and urge carbon trading markets, which currently have outdated models, to modify their valuations accordingly.




Share this:
What's New
  • Making Waves Podcast Episode 26: Carbon Fates, Dr. Erin Hotchkiss more
  • Fall 2017 Issue of In the Drift now available! more
  • September 2017 Issue of Freshwater Science now online more
  • Does Cultural Diversity Matter to Scientific Societies? Read the President's Environment more
  • SFS Student Presentation Awards! more
  • In the drift just fell into your sampler! The Spring 2015 Newsletter is here! more
  • Making Waves Podcast Episode 14: Nitrogen Fixation in a Warming World, Dr. Jill Welter more
BENTHOS News
  • The deadline to submit proposals for AQUATROP Special Sessions or Symposiums is now November 17, 2017

    more
  • SFS joins CASS in condemning silencing of EPA scientists

    more
  • Andy Leidolf appointed as SFS Executive Director

     

    more
  • VOTING CLOSED - SFS LOGO CONTEST VOTE!

    Over 60 logos were submitted by 28 individuals and narrowed to 3 finalists. Now is your chance to select the winner.

    more
  • SFS signs two letters sent to the US EPA regarding the Trump Administration's proposed revisions to the Waters of the US rule



    more

More SFS News...

Back to Top
NABS Logo
© 2015 Society for Freshwater Science
Membership Services:
(435) 797-9270 | sfsmembership@usu.edu