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Saunois, M, Bousquet P, Poulter B, Peregon A, Ciais P, Canadell JG, Dlugokencky EJ, Etiope G, Bastviken D, Houweling S, Janssens-Maenhout G, Tubiello FN, Castaldi S, Jackson RB, Alexe M, Arora VK, Beerling DJ, Bergamaschi P, Blake DR, Brailsford G, Bruhwiler L, Crevoisier C, Crill P, Covey K, Frankenberg C, Gedney N, Hoglund-Isaksson L, Ishizawa M, Ito A, Joos F, Kim HS, Kleinen T, Krummel P, Lamarque JF, Langenfelds R, Locatelli R, Machida T, Maksyutov S, Melton JR, Morino I, Naik V, O'Doherty S, Parmentier FJ, Patra PK, Peng CH, Peng SS, Peters GP, Pison I, Prinn R, Ramonet M, Riley WJ, Saito M, Santini M, Schroeder R, Simpson IJ, Spahni R, Takizawa A, Thornton BF, Tian HQ, Tohjima Y, Viovy N, Voulgarakis A, Weiss R, Wilton DJ, Wiltshire A, Worthy D, Wunch D, Xu XY, Yoshida Y, Zhang BW, Zhang Z, Zhu QA.  2017.  Variability and quasi-decadal changes in the methane budget over the period 2000-2012. Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics. 17:11135-11161.   10.5194/acp-17-11135-2017   AbstractWebsite

Following the recent Global Carbon Project (GCP) synthesis of the decadal methane (CH4) budget over 2000-2012 (Saunois et al., 2016), we analyse here the same dataset with a focus on quasi-decadal and inter-annual variability in CH4 emissions. The GCP dataset integrates results from top-down studies (exploiting atmospheric observations within an atmospheric inverse-modelling framework) and bottom-up models (including process-based models for estimating land surface emissions and atmospheric chemistry), inventories of anthropogenic emissions, and data-driven approaches. The annual global methane emissions from top-down studies, which by construction match the observed methane growth rate within their uncertainties, all show an increase in total methane emissions over the period 2000-2012, but this increase is not linear over the 13 years. Despite differences between individual studies, the mean emission anomaly of the top-down ensemble shows no significant trend in total methane emissions over the period 2000-2006, during the plateau of atmospheric methane mole fractions, and also over the period 2008-2012, during the renewed atmospheric methane increase. However, the top-down ensemble mean produces an emission shift between 2006 and 2008, leading to 22 [16-32] Tg CH4 yr(-1) higher methane emissions over the period 2008-2012 compared to 2002-2006. This emission increase mostly originated from the tropics, with a smaller contribution from mid-latitudes and no significant change from boreal regions. The regional contributions remain uncertain in top-down studies. Tropical South America and South and East Asia seem to contribute the most to the emission increase in the tropics. However, these two regions have only limited atmospheric measurements and remain therefore poorly constrained. The sectorial partitioning of this emission increase between the periods 2002-2006 and 2008-2012 differs from one atmospheric inversion study to another. However, all top-down studies suggest smaller changes in fossil fuel emissions (from oil, gas, and coal industries) compared to the mean of the bottom-up inventories included in this study. This difference is partly driven by a smaller emission change in China from the top-down studies compared to the estimate in the Emission Database for Global Atmospheric Research (EDGARv4.2) inventory, which should be revised to smaller values in a near future. We apply isotopic signatures to the emission changes estimated for individual studies based on five emission sectors and find that for six individual top-down studies (out of eight) the average isotopic signature of the emission changes is not consistent with the observed change in atmospheric (CH4)-C-13. However, the partitioning in emission change derived from the ensemble mean is consistent with this isotopic constraint. At the global scale, the top-down ensemble mean suggests that the dominant contribution to the resumed atmospheric CH4 growth after 2006 comes from microbial sources (more from agriculture and waste sectors than from natural wetlands), with an uncertain but smaller contribution from fossil CH4 emissions. In addition, a decrease in biomass burning emissions (in agreement with the biomass burning emission databases) makes the balance of sources consistent with atmospheric (CH4)-C-13 observations. In most of the top-down studies included here, OH concentrations are considered constant over the years (seasonal variations but without any inter-annual variability). As a result, the methane loss (in particular through OH oxidation) varies mainly through the change in methane concentrations and not its oxidants. For these reasons, changes in the methane loss could not be properly investigated in this study, although it may play a significant role in the recent atmospheric methane changes as briefly discussed at the end of the paper.

Dalsoren, SB, Myhre CL, Myhre G, Gomez-Pelaez AJ, Sovde OA, Isaksen ISA, Weiss RF, Harth CM.  2016.  Atmospheric methane evolution the last 40 years. Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics. 16:3099-3126.   10.5194/acp-16-3099-2016   AbstractWebsite

Observations at surface sites show an increase in global mean surface methane (CH4) of about 180 parts per billion (ppb) (above 10 %) over the period 1984-2012. Over this period there are large fluctuations in the annual growth rate. In this work, we investigate the atmospheric CH4 evolution over the period 1970-2012 with the Oslo CTM3 global chemical transport model (CTM) in a bottom-up approach. We thoroughly assess data from surface measurement sites in international networks and select a subset suited for comparisons with the output from the CTM. We compare model results and observations to understand causes for both long-term trends and short-term variations. Employing Oslo CTM3 we are able to reproduce the seasonal and year-to-year variations and shifts between years with consecutive growth and stagnation, both at global and regional scales. The overall CH4 trend over the period is reproduced, but for some periods the model fails to reproduce the strength of the growth. The model overestimates the observed growth after 2006 in all regions. This seems to be explained by an overly strong increase in anthropogenic emissions in Asia, having global impact. Our findings confirm other studies questioning the timing or strength of the emission changes in Asia in the EDGAR v4.2 emission inventory over recent decades. The evolution of CH4 is not only controlled by changes in sources, but also by changes in the chemical loss in the atmosphere and soil uptake. The atmospheric CH4 lifetime is an indicator of the CH4 loss. In our simulations, the atmospheric CH4 lifetime decreases by more than 8 % from 1970 to 2012, a significant reduction of the residence time of this important greenhouse gas. Changes in CO and NOx emissions, specific humidity, and ozone column drive most of this, and we provide simple prognostic equations for the relations between those and the CH4 lifetime. The reduced lifetime results in substantial growth in the chemical CH4 loss (relative to its burden) and dampens the CH4 growth.

Kirschke, S, Bousquet P, Ciais P, Saunois M, Canadell JG, Dlugokencky EJ, Bergamaschi P, Bergmann D, Blake DR, Bruhwiler L, Cameron-Smith P, Castaldi S, Chevallier F, Feng L, Fraser A, Heimann M, Hodson EL, Houweling S, Josse B, Fraser PJ, Krummel PB, Lamarque JF, Langenfelds RL, Le Quere C, Naik V, O'Doherty S, Palmer PI, Pison I, Plummer D, Poulter B, Prinn RG, Rigby M, Ringeval B, Santini M, Schmidt M, Shindell DT, Simpson IJ, Spahni R, Steele LP, Strode SA, Sudo K, Szopa S, van der Werf GR, Voulgarakis A, van Weele M, Weiss RF, Williams JE, Zeng G.  2013.  Three decades of global methane sources and sinks. Nature Geoscience. 6:813-823.   10.1038/ngeo1955   AbstractWebsite

Methane is an important greenhouse gas, responsible for about 20% of the warming induced by long-lived greenhouse gases since pre-industrial times. By reacting with hydroxyl radicals, methane reduces the oxidizing capacity of the atmosphere and generates ozone in the troposphere. Although most sources and sinks of methane have been identified, their relative contributions to atmospheric methane levels are highly uncertain. As such, the factors responsible for the observed stabilization of atmospheric methane levels in the early 2000s, and the renewed rise after 2006, remain unclear. Here, we construct decadal budgets for methane sources and sinks between 1980 and 2010, using a combination of atmospheric measurements and results from chemical transport models, ecosystem models, climate chemistry models and inventories of anthropogenic emissions. The resultant budgets suggest that data-driven approaches and ecosystem models overestimate total natural emissions. We build three contrasting emission scenarios - which differ in fossil fuel and microbial emissions - to explain the decadal variability in atmospheric methane levels detected, here and in previous studies, since 1985. Although uncertainties in emission trends do not allow definitive conclusions to be drawn, we show that the observed stabilization of methane levels between 1999 and 2006 can potentially be explained by decreasing-to-stable fossil fuel emissions, combined with stable-to-increasing microbial emissions. We show that a rise in natural wetland emissions and fossil fuel emissions probably accounts for the renewed increase in global methane levels after 2006, although the relative contribution of these two sources remains uncertain.

Cunnold, DM, Steele LP, Fraser PJ, Simmonds PG, Prinn RG, Weiss RF, Porter LW, O'Doherty S, Langenfelds RL, Krummel PB, Wang HJ, Emmons L, Tie XX, Dlugokencky EJ.  2002.  In situ measurements of atmospheric methane at GAGE/AGAGE sites during 1985-2000 and resulting source inferences. Journal of Geophysical Research-Atmospheres. 107   10.1029/2001jd001226   AbstractWebsite

[1] Continuous measurements of methane since 1986 at the Global Atmospherics Gases Experiment/Advanced Global Atmospherics Gases Experiment (GAGE/AGAGE) surface sites are described. The precisions range from approximately 10 ppb at Mace Head, Ireland, during GAGE to better than 2 ppb at Cape Grim, Tasmania, during AGAGE (i.e., since 1993). The measurements exhibit good agreement with coincident measurements of air samples from the same locations analyzed by Climate Monitoring and Diagnostics Laboratory (CMDL) except for differences of approximately 5 ppb before 1989 (GAGE lower) and about 4 ppb from 1991 to 1995 (GAGE higher). These results are obtained before applying a factor of 1.0119 to the GAGE/AGAGE values to place them on the Tohoku University scale. The measurements combined with a 12-box atmospheric model and an assumed atmospheric lifetime of 9.1 years indicates net annual emissions (emissions minus soil sinks) of 545 Tg CH4 with a variability of only +/-20 Tg from 1985 to 1997 but an increase in the emissions in 1998 of 37 +/- 10 Tg. The effect of OH changes inferred by Prinn et al. [2001] is to increase the estimated methane emissions by approximately 20 Tg in the mid-1980s and to reduce them by 20 Tg in 1997 and by more thereafter. Using a two-dimensional (2-D), 12-box model with transport constrained by the GAGE/AGAGE chlorofluorocarbon measurements, we calculate that the proportion of the emissions coming from the Northern Hemisphere is between 73 and 81%, depending on the OH distribution used. However, this result includes an adjustment of 5% derived from a simulation of the 2-D estimation procedure using the 3-D MOZART model. This adjustment is needed because of the very different spatial emission distributions of the chlorofluorocarbons and methane which makes chlorofluorocarbons derived transport rates inaccurate for the 2-D simulation of methane. The 2-D model combined with the annual cycle in OH from Spivakovsky et al. [2000] provide an acceptable fit to the observed 12-month cycles in methane. The trend in the amplitude of the annual cycle of methane at Cape Grim is used to infer a trend in OH in 30degrees-90degreesS of 0 +/- 5% per decade from 1985 to 2000, in qualitative agreement with Prinn et al. [2001] for the Southern Hemisphere.

Prinn, RG, Weiss RF, Fraser PJ, Simmonds PG, Cunnold DM, Alyea FN, O'Doherty S, Salameh P, Miller BR, Huang J, Wang RHJ, Hartley DE, Harth C, Steele LP, Sturrock G, Midgley PM, McCulloch A.  2000.  A history of chemically and radiatively important gases in air deduced from ALE/GAGE/AGAGE. Journal of Geophysical Research-Atmospheres. 105:17751-17792.   10.1029/2000jd900141   AbstractWebsite

We describe in detail the instrumentation and calibrations used in the Atmospheric Lifetime Experiment (ALE), the Global Atmospheric Cases Experiment (GAGE), and the Advanced Global Atmospheric Gases Experiment (AGAGE) and present a history of the majority of the anthropogenic ozone-depleting and climate-forcing gases in air based on these experiments. Beginning in 1978, these three successive automated high-frequency in situ experiments have documented the long-term behavior of the measured concentrations of these gases over the past 20 years, and show both the evolution of latitudinal gradients and the high-frequency variability due to sources and circulation. We provide estimates of the long-term trends in total chlorine contained in long-lived halocarbons involved in ozone depletion. We summarize interpretations of these measurements using inverse methods to determine trace gas lifetimes and emissions. Finally, we provide a combined observational and modeled reconstruction of the evolution of chlorocarbons by latitude in the atmosphere over the past 60 years which can be used as boundary conditions for interpreting trapped air in glaciers and oceanic measurements of chlorocarbon tracers of the deep oceanic circulation. Some specific conclusions are as follows: (1) International compliance with the Montreal Protocol is so far resulting in chlorofluorocarbon and chlorocarbon mole fractions comparable to target levels; (2) mole fractions of total chlorine contained in long-lived halocarbons (CCl2F2, CCl3F, CH3CCl3, CCl4, CHClF2, CCl2FCClF2, CH3Cl, CH2Cl2, CHCl3, CCl2=CCl2) in the lower troposphere reached maximum values of about 3.6 ppb in 1993 and are beginning to slowly decrease in the global lower atmosphere; (3) the chlorofluorocarbons have atmospheric lifetimes consistent with destruction in the stratosphere being their principal removal mechanism; (4) multiannual variations in chlorofluorocarbon and chlorocarbon emissions deduced from ALE/GAGE/AGAGE data are consistent approximately with variations estimated independently from industrial production and sales data where available (CCl2F2 (CFC-12) and CCl2FCClF2 (CFC-113) show the greatest discrepancies); (5) the mole fractions of the hydrochlorofluorocarbons and hydrofluorocarbons, which are replacing the regulated halocarbons, are rising very rapidly in the atmosphere, but with the exception of the much longer manufactured CHClF2 (HCFC-22), they are not yet at levels sufficient to contribute significantly to atmospheric chlorine loading. These replacement species could in the future provide independent estimates of the global weighted-average OH concentration provided their industrial emissions are accurately documented; (6) in the future, analysis of pollution events measured using high-frequency in situ measurements of chlorofluorocarbons and their replacements may enable emission estimates at the regional level, which, together with industrial end-use data, are of sufficient accuracy to he capable of identifying regional noncompliance with the Montreal Protocol.