Researchers from the United States presented a new computational model, which revealed that the level of hydrogen in the atmosphere increased by at least 1.5 times. This is due to the results of human activities.
Scientists at the University of California (UCI), studying systems of the Earth, investigated the air “trapped” in the compacted layers of Antarctic ice and snow. These data gave them answers to questions about the amount of molecular hydrogen in the planet’s atmosphere. Hydrogen is a byproduct of fossil fuel combustion, biomass and methane oxidation – it has an impact on global warming.
UCI researchers, joined by scientists from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the University of Colorado at Boulder and the University of California, San Diego, found that molecular hydrogen increased from 330 to 550 parts per billion in Earth’s atmosphere from 1852 to 2003.
“Old air is trapped in the perennial snow cover over the ice sheet, and sampling it gives us a very accurate account of the composition of the atmosphere over time,” said lead author John Patterson. “Our paleoatmospheric reconstruction of hydrogen levels has greatly expanded our understanding of anthropogenic emissions since the beginning of the industrial revolution.”
Patterson noted that the main reason for this increase in substance is associated with human activities, especially with transport, but part of the growth is still unaccounted for. “The government’s exhaust policy has resulted in a reduction in atmospheric carbon monoxide, so we should have expected the same effect on molecular hydrogen, but that doesn’t seem to be the case,” he said. “There is no evidence that atmospheric emissions of molecular hydrogen decreased in the 20th century, so we probably underestimate the non-automotive sources of this gas.”
The researchers said a new source of H2 emissions could soon emerge as more people switch to zero-carbon hydrogen energy for cars and other uses.