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Atmospheric scientists use aircraft to detect pipeline leaks

Narrator:       This is Science Today. Atmospheric scientists at the University of California, Davis, are flying over the spine of California to trace 600 miles of Pacific Gas and Electric's natural gas pipeline to detect methane gas leaks.

Faloona:         We were originally interested in it as most atmospheric scientists would be, in terms of greenhouse gases and how that's going to affect the climate, whether natural or human-induced sources.

Narrator:       Atmospheric scientist Ian Faloona explains that they're using specialized instruments on a small aircraft that can detect gas leaks several miles downwind from the source.

Faloona:         The technology's there now that we can see these really small little blips, these small wisps of methane that are coming as a source out of the ground. As far as I know, no one is doing that directly.

Narrator:       Faloona says airplane surveys conducted with scientific instruments are more accurate, efficient and safer than other available methods and could be replicated throughout the nation and the world. For Science Today, I'm Larissa Branin.