Methane emissions from oil rigs in the North Sea that were never measured precisely aroused the interest of Christian Scharun, early-stage researcher from Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT). He developed an algorithm to more precisely and efficiently determine the greenhouse gas emissions of oil rigs from satellite data. Scharun’s talk about his findings made him now win the national final of FameLab, an international competition for science communication.
Eight young researchers from Germany competed at the national final of the FameLab in Bielefeld on Monday (May 16, 2022) and tried to convince the audience and the jury. To qualify for the final, they had to be successful in various regional competitions. Dr. Christian Scharun, an early-stage researcher from KIT’s Institute of Meteorology and Climate Research (IMK), finally convinced the about 700 spectators. “I am very proud of having achieved this,” Scharun said when he learned that he did not only win the competition, but also the prize of the audience. “I am very happy about this additional prize, because it is the audience that we address.” By winning the FameLab national final, Scharun has qualified for the world’s final in the United Kingdom, where he will represent Germany.
Concerned about Methane Leaks
Last year, the young scientist completed his doctorate on emissions of greenhouse gases and their share in global warming. “I got the idea to focus on this topic when I started a search for precise methane emissions of oil rigs in the North Sea,” Scharun remembers. “I found that hundreds of oil rigs are not even listed in databases of greenhouse gas emissions, although small methane leaks already may have a strong climate-damaging effect.” To change this situation, Scharun developed an algorithm, by means of which specific producers, such as centers of industry, cities, or oil rigs, are allocated to emission hotspots using satellite data.
With the help of this method, Scharun proved that oil rigs in the North Sea produce considerable amounts of emissions. “These emissions total about 70,000 tons of methane per year. This corresponds to the methane emitted by all cattle in Baden-Württemberg,” Scharun adds. With his straightforward talks at the FameLab competition and other events, he now wishes to emphasize the urgent need for climate protection measures.
FameLab is the world’s biggest competition for science communication, which addresses young researchers. They are to speak about a scientific topic in a fascinating way that can be understood by non-experts. Use of PowerPoint or notes is not permitted. Participants are only allowed to use props they can bring along. They are supposed to convince the audience and a jury of renowned representatives of research and media. The FameLab competition is organized annually in about 30 countries worldwide. The winners of all national finals compete at the Cheltenham Science Festival in the United Kingdom.
Further Information in German: https://www.bielefeld.jetzt/famelab
More about the KIT Climate and Environment Center: https://www.klima-umwelt.kit.edu/english/
Being “The Research University in the Helmholtz Association”, KIT creates and imparts knowledge for the society and the environment. It is the objective to make significant contributions to the global challenges in the fields of energy, mobility, and information. For this, about 9,800 employees cooperate in a broad range of disciplines in natural sciences, engineering sciences, economics, and the humanities and social sciences. KIT prepares its 22,300 students for responsible tasks in society, industry, and science by offering research-based study programs. Innovation efforts at KIT build a bridge between important scientific findings and their application for the benefit of society, economic prosperity, and the preservation of our natural basis of life. KIT is one of the German universities of excellence.