Monday, April 20, 2020

Vapors Have Effects

Environmental & Science Education
Earth Science
Earth Systems
Edward Hessler

I missed the following report when it was first published. It discusses a source of greenhouse gases easily overlooked.  First a few details-I thought of it as a rough recipe for what follows. A first stab.


Six million visitors to Munich, Germany.
Two weeks.
250,000 pork sausages.
500,000 chickens.
7 million liters of beer.
Only 1.1 million liters of water and lemonade though. What a contrast!

Kai Kupferschmidt describes a negative atmospheric effect in this preview essay in the journal Science. The original research report focused on the greenhouse gas, methane, a potent greenhouse gas. And it adds to the ingredient list above.

The estimate is 1500 kg (~3306 #, 1.5 tonnes, ~15981 tons US) of methane were contributed during the festival.

Well the tendency is to think the cause is human emissions, burps and farts. However, Kupferschmidt reports "the researchers argue, (it is) most likely to come from gas-powered cooking and heating applicances. Because festivals like Oktoberfest can be significant sources of methane, they should be included in future emission inventories." The emission rate is 10 times that of the city of Boston.

So I wonder about Minnesota's big event, the Minnesota State Fair, the Great Get Together..

A link to the original study is found in Kuperschmidt. These measurements were difficult and if you want, take a look at the methods section for the research design which required considerable thinking. There are also some maps to give you an idea of factors the research team had to consider in that design. An issue is that the Octoberfest organizers would not let researchers with their equipment on the site.

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