Atmospheric levels of methane are on the rise: researchers warn

Atmospheric levels of methane are on the rise: researchers warn

Atmospheric levels of methane (CH4), one of the most powerful greenhouse gases, are on the rise, a team of researchers reported in an analysis published in the journal Environmental Research Letters on Sunday.

The researchers warned that methane is surging in the atmosphere after a period of comparative stagnation in the 2000s. They also warned that efforts to tackle global warming and climate change will be undermined unless efforts are made to bring methane under tighter control.

Prof. Robert Jackson, a researcher from Stanford University, said, “CO2 is still the dominant target for mitigation, for good reason. 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.”

Making a call to the scientific community to address the knowledge deficit surrounding CH4, a new report cautioned that CH4 barely moved between 2000 and 2006, but the concentration of the gas in the atmosphere increased starting 2007, and then jumped sharply in 2014 and 2015.

In 2014 and 2015, CH4 jumped 10 or more parts per billion (ppb) annually, hitting just above 1,850ppb. By contrast, worldwide emissions of CO2 have somewhat flattened at around 400ppb.

Prof Jackson was speaking ahead of the American Geophysical Union (AGU) meeting, which is scheduled to take place later this week in San Francisco. Methane trends will likely be a major point of discussion at the meeting.


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