Since 2009, the quantity of ethane in the atmosphere has been increasing by 5% per year. Prior to this, concentrations of the gas had actually been decreasing over a twenty-year period thanks to successful political initiatives. This gas tends to lead to peak ozone levels in the air we breathe and increase the atmospheric lifetime of greenhouse gases. Ethane essentially comes from the exploitation of oil and natural gas. It is also a good indicator of anthropogenic emissions of methane. A multiple study initiated by the University of Liege using measurements and modelling has clearly identified the main cause of the increase of ethane in the atmosphere: the sudden expansion of shale gas exploitation in the US.
The heavy price of shale gas