Munich Oktoberfest emits higher methane flow than Boston

Oktoberfest, the famous German "beer festival", is known for both its scale and its overconsumption of drinks (including plenty of beer) and food. More than 6 million visitors come to Munich each year for more than two weeks of festivities. During this period, they consume on average 250'000 pork sausages, half a million chickens and 7 million liters of beer (against only 1.1 million liters of water and lemonade). But what about the emissions that result from such a big event? Researchers provide an initial answer in what is the first study dealing with methane emissions produced as part of a major festival.

To determine the amount of methane produced by the largest carnival in the world, researchers from the Technical University of Munich spent several days sampling the air around the festival, in 2018. The organizers banned them from using their instruments inside the perimeter for safety reasons, they had to perform a series of measurements around the area.

When they collected the data and took into account the speed and direction of the wind, they estimated that the festival generated 1500 kilograms of methane, one of the main greenhouse gases.

Oktoberfest standard perimeter (yellow), including the locations of the 16 large tents (red) and the center point (green). Credits: Google, DigitalGlobe / Technical University of Munich

On average, 6.7 micrograms of methane were emitted per square meter, every second, which represents a flux 10 times higher than that of the city of Boston (United States). The researchers report these figures and this comparison in their published document (in pre-print) in Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics , where it is currently being revised.

According to the researchers, this amount of methane can not be explained simply by visitors' natural emissions (respiration, flatulence), but it is much more likely to come from gas cooking and heating appliances, mainly located in large cities. tents.

The results can help develop policies and measures to reduce CH 4 emissions at festivals and other major events in cities.

In addition, events of limited duration have not yet been included in the most recent emission inventories, such as TNO-MACC, EDGAR or IER, but surveys show that these figures are not negligible. Therefore, these events should be included in future emissions inventories.


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