The numbers from around the globe are in, and it’s official: 2016 was the hottest year on record, again. According to independent analysis from NASA and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), 2016 was the third year in a row to break temperature records. The New York Times collected AccuWeather data for more than 5,000 cities, including Albuquerque, to illustrate temperature and precipitation changes. Albuquerque’s average temperature last year was 2 degrees Fahrenheit above normal, while precipitation fell 2.8 inches short of normal. Globally, the average temperature has risen by 1.7 degrees Fahrenheit since the 1880s.
The EPA announced a new rule to limit methane pollution from oil and gas wells and cut the size of the methane cloud over the Four Corners. The rule requires all U.S. oil and gas operators to capture methane and other volatile organic compounds that are currently released into the atmosphere during drilling. The rule affects new and modified oil and gas wells. The EPA is working on a rule to cover existing oil and gas wells. Nationally, the oil and gas industry releases 9.8 million metric tons of methane into the atmosphere during the course of drilling each year.
A group of researchers will look into the causes of a large methane cloud over the northwest corner of New Mexico, according to an an announcement on Monday from NASA. Christian Frankenberg, a jet propulsion scientist, will be representing NASA in the research. “With all the ground-based and airborne resources that the different groups are bringing to the region, we have the unique chance to unequivocally solve the Four Corners mystery,” Frankenberg said in a statement. Last year, the the Daily Times in Farmington reported on the discovery of a methane cloud that covered 2,500 square miles of the Four Corners area. The measurements show a major bloom of methane gas in the region — approximately 1.32 trillion cubic feet of methane produced or leaked into the atmosphere each year.