This story was originally published by The Guardian and is reproduced here as part of the Climate Desk collaboration.
Scientists fear methane erupting from the burst Nord Stream pipelines into the Baltic Sea could be one of the worst natural gas leaks ever and pose significant climate risks.
Neither of the two breached Nord Stream pipelines, which run between Russia and Germany, was operational, but both contained natural gas. This mostly consists of methane — a greenhouse gas that is the biggest cause of climate heating after carbon dioxide.
The extent of the leaks is still unclear but rough estimates by scientists, based on the volume of gas reportedly in one of the pipelines, vary between 100,000 and 350,000 tons of methane.
Jasmin Cooper, a research associate at Imperial College London’s department of chemical engineering, said a “lot of uncertainty” surrounded the leak.
“We know there are three explosions but we don’t know if there are three holes in the sides of the pipe or how big the breaks are,” said Cooper. “It’s difficult to know how much is reaching the surface. But it is potentially hundreds of thousands of to... Read more