New Mexico Supercomputing Challenge

The Impact of Trees on CO2

Team: 12

School: Capshaw Mid

Area of Science: Environmental Science


Interim: Problem Definition: There is too much Methane gas being released into the atmosphere. It is making a hole in our ozone which is making climate change more rapidly. Cows emit 20% of the world’s methane. One cow can produce 280 liters of methane per day. 1 (ABC Science) One ton of methane is equivalent to 22 tons of carbon dioxide. 1 (ABC Science) Methane gas is coming from cows releasing it by burping (95%) and passing gas (5%). Molecule for molecule methane is much more effective than carbon dioxide at trapping heat in the atmosphere 2 (NPR). The USA is responsible for 2% of the world’s greenhouse gases because of how much methane gas is released 1 (ABC Science). This is contributing to Global Warming which may eventually kill us.
Carbon dioxide also is trapping the sun’s rays causing our atmosphere to heat up more and the Earth to heat up more causing climate change. We find carbon dioxide from coal, oil and natural gas. In big cities, cars are contributing greatly to CO2 emissions.
Problem Solution: We are proposing that if we put trees around fields with cows, the trees will absorb the methane gas around the cows. The best tree that absorbs methane gases and CO2 are the Christmas tree types such as spruces, pines and firs. We propose that if we put more of these types of fir trees in the city it will absorb more carbon gases. One tree can absorb as much as 21772.8 grams of CO2 per year. For a 1% reduction of one cow’s methane per year, it would take 36.5 trees.
Progress to Date: We are using a Star Logo Model to make it easier to model in Net Logo. The only problem is Star logo is vary limited to what we want and can do. But so far we made it so the methane is released by the cows by a yearly amount. Also we made it so when it reaches a certain altitude it decomposes into CO2. Then we made an area where there could be cars so we could compare the amount of CO2.
Expected Results: What I expect to happen is the model will show the decrease in methane gas released into the air by the cows and cars because we are putting trees by the heavily populated areas where the methane is most dense. We are using the statistics from our research to model the reduction of methane and we expect that methane in the atmosphere will go down.
Team Members: Max McGrael, Alex Baten, and Sean Shepard


Team Members:

  Alex Baten
  Maxwell McGrael
  Sean Shepherd

Sponsoring Teacher: Kimberley Weems

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