Living reference work entry


Natural gas has gained a dominant role in current world clean energy development due to the significant advances in horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing. Hydraulic fracturing, also known as fracking that is now increasing exponentially across the world, is the process of extracting natural gas from shale rock layers or other tight rock formations within the earth. Specifically, horizontal drilling combined with traditional vertical drilling allows injection of highly pressurized fracking fluids into the shale layers to create new channels within the rock, from which natural gas is released at much higher rates than traditional drilling. For example, the USA holds the largest known shale gas reserves in the world. Fracking in the USA has boosted economy and local community growth. However, studies have found that hydraulic fracking threatens water resources, harms air quality, changes landscapes, and damages ecosystems. Furthermore, methane emissions from drilling, fracking processes, and the related natural gas storage and transportation have become a critical issue, which raises the question whether hydraulic fracking can mitigate world climate change. Some studies have obtained significantly different conclusions of climate mitigation impacts of fracking. More studies and further measuring and observational surveys are needed in order to have a comprehensive understanding of hydraulic fracturing’s impacts on climate mitigation.


Hydraulic fracturing Fracking Environmental risks Climate mitigation Methane emission Observational study Shale plays Tight gas basins Natural gas Storage and transportation Horizontal drilling Volatile organic compounds Wastewater World climate change 


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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of GeosciencesMississippi State UniversityStarkvilleUSA

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