In the Earth’s atmosphere, molecular hydrogen levels increased between 1852 and 2003 by up to 550 parts per billion, according to researchers at the University of Colorado Boulder and UC San Diego.
Human activity has led to an increase of over 70 percent in molecular hydrogen (H2) levels in the atmosphere in the last 150 years.
From 1852 to 2003, a study by researchers from the University of Colorado Boulder and UC San Diego found an increase in molecular hydrogen levels trapped in Antarctic ice.
Researchers have presented their conclusions in the publications of the National Academy of Sciences. As a lead author of the paper, John Patterson says ice sheets above perennial snowpack provide a highly accurate depiction of the period’s atmospheric composition. Scientists have used paleoatmospheric reconstructions of hydrogen levels to better understand human emissions since the Industrial Revolution.
Hydrogen is not a greenhouse gas, so it doesn’t contribute to global warming on its own. However, the abundance of hydrogen in gaseous form can indirectly affect the distribution of ozone and methane. Global warming is primarily caused by carbon dioxide, methane, and ozone. Thus, excessive molecular hydrogen in the atmosphere contributes indirectly to climate change.
Human activity usually generates molecular hydrogen through the combustion of fossil fuels and biomass. The production of industrial formaldehyde, which is used for industrial resins, coatings, and more, is also a significant contributor to the formation of molecular hydrogen.
The Previous Study has revealed the indirect impact of the hydrogen economy on the environment. According to Patterson, despite tighter regulations on fossil fuel emissions leading to decreased carbon monoxide emissions, molecular hydrogen emissions have continued to increase. There might be a source of molecular hydrogen that we have ignored.
Another research has shown that hydrogen emissions increased consistently between the years 2000 and 2015. Underestimating emissions from leakage in industrial processing may also explain the discrepancy. Patterson estimates that emissions from industrial processes could be significant.