Research press release


Nature Communications

Environment: Red Sea releasing large quantities of polluting gases


今回、Efstratios Bourtsoukidisたちの研究チームは、2017年7~8月にアラビア半島周辺で行われた観測の結果を集積して、炭化水素汚染物質の排出量を定量化し、この観測結果を既存の大気モデルと比較した。その結果、紅海北部の上空でのエタンとプロパンの観測値が、モデルによる推定値よりもはるかに高いことが分かった。また、Bourtsoukidisたちは、これらの汚染物質を運ぶ気団の軌跡をたどることで、海中の排出源を突き止めた。炭化水素ガスの排出量は年間0.2テラグラム(2億キログラム)以上で、採油・採ガス活動の盛んな国々(アラブ首長国連邦、クウェート、オマーンなど)からの人為的排出量に匹敵することも分かった。


Large quantities of non-methane hydrocarbon gases, such as ethane and propane, are being emitted from deep water sources in the northern Red Sea, reports a paper in Nature Communications. The study suggests that natural stores of these pollutants enter the atmosphere in quantities that exceed anthropogenic emissions from some oil-producing countries in the Middle East.

Efstratios Bourtsoukidis and colleagues collected measurements from around the Arabian Peninsula in July and August 2017 to quantify emissions of hydrocarbon pollutants and compared their observations with existing atmospheric models. The authors found that measurements of ethane and propane taken over the northern Red Sea were much higher than model estimates. By tracking the trajectory of air masses carrying the pollutants, they located an underwater source. They found that the quantity of hydrocarbon gases released was over 0.2 teragrams (200 million kilograms) per year - a value that rivals anthropogenic emissions from countries with high levels of oil and gas activity, such as the United Arab Emirates, Kuwait and Oman.

Once in the atmosphere, these gases interact with nitrogen oxides and trigger the formation of a suite of compounds like ozone, which are harmful to human health. The authors caution that projected increases in ship traffic and the associated rise in nitrogen oxide emissions could amplify ozone formation, with effects on air quality in the region.

doi: 10.1038/s41467-020-14375-0

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