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Added: Kanika Boles - Date: 06.11.2021 18:42 - Views: 27695 - Clicks: 8599

Scientists say they are concerned at the rate at which methane in the atmosphere is now rising. After a period of relative stagnation in the s, the concentration of the gas has surged.

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Methane CH4 is a smaller component than carbon dioxide CO2 but drives a more potent greenhouse effect. Researchers warn that efforts to tackle climate change will be undermined unless CH4 is also brought under tighter control.

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But we run the risk if we lose sight of methane of offsetting the gains we might make in bringing down levels of carbon dioxide," said Robert Jackson from Stanford University, US. With colleagues who are part of an initiative called the Global Carbon Projecthe has also just authored an editorial in the journal Environmental Research Letters ERL. This paper makes a clarion call to the scientific community to address the knowledge deficit that surrounds CH4.

Quite why methane has suddenly spiked is not obvious. After barely moving between andthe concentration in the atmosphere ticked upwards fromand then jumped sharply in and In those final two years, methane rose rapidly by 10 or more parts per billion ppb annually.

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It is now just above 1,ppb. By contrast, global CO2 emissions have flattened somewhat of late, giving hope that the rise in its atmospheric concentration currently just above parts per million might also slow. Agricultural sources would include cattle and other ruminants, as well as rice paddies.

Emissions from wetlands are almost certainly a ificant part of this story as well.

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But so too could be the role played by the chemical reactions that normally remove methane from the atmosphere. One of the most important of these is the destruction process involving the so-called hydroxyl radical. The concentration of this chemical species in the atmosphere might also be changing in some way.

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According to the ERL editorial, there needs to be a particular push on understanding such methane "sinks". CH4 is about 30 times better than CO2, over a century timescale, at trapping heat in the atmosphere.

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Scientists use computer models to try to project how Earth will warm given a certain mix of gases, and right now methane's growth rate is close to a path that would take the world into a very challenging future. She is the lead author on the ERL paper.

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One development that should help scientists as they grapple with the methane issue is the launch of new satellites. A sensors are planned that will specifically target carbon molecules. I'm optimistic because there are new satellites coming along that will give us the power to see methane concentrations all over the world on a regular basis," explained Prof Jackson. Related Topics. Earth science Climate change.

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