Environmental Science

How much methane from landfills?

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Science  22 Aug 2014:
Vol. 345, Issue 6199, pp. 887-888
DOI: 10.1126/science.345.6199.887-d

Landfill sites emit substantial amounts of the greenhouse gas methane, but how much of the methane in the atmosphere comes from such sites? Scientists have measured widely varying fluxes, so estimates have been highly uncertain. Xu et al. measured methane emissions from a landfill site in Lincoln, Nebraska, from June to December 2010. They found that emissions varied widely from one day to the next, depending on the air pressure: The higher the air pressure, the lower the emissions. They conclude that measurements must be taken for at least 10 days to obtain a good estimate of annual methane emissions from landfill sites. This conclusion also could apply to other environmental sources of methane, such as wetlands and peatlands.

Methane emission varies daily at landfills

PHOTO: GETTY IMAGES/FUSE

Global Biogeochem. Cy. 10.1002/2013GB004571 (2014).

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