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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, Brovkin V, Bruhwiler L, Crevoisier C, Crill P, Covey K, Curry C, 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, McDonald KC, Marshall J, Melton JR, Morino I, Naik V, O'Doherty S, Parmentier FJW, Patra PK, Peng CH, Peng SS, Peters GP, Pison I, Prigent C, Prinn R, Ramonet M, Riley WJ, Saito M, Santini M, Schroeder R, Simpson IJ, Spahni R, Steele P, Takizawa A, Thornton BF, Tian HQ, Tohjima Y, Viovy N, Voulgarakis A, van Weele M, van der Werf GR, Weiss R, Wiedinmyer C, Wilton DJ, Wiltshire A, Worthy D, Wunch D, Xu XY, Yoshida Y, Zhang B, Zhang Z, Zhu Q.  2016.  The global methane budget 2000-2012. Earth System Science Data. 8:697-751.   10.5194/essd-8-697-2016   AbstractWebsite

The global methane (CH4) budget is becoming an increasingly important component for managing realistic pathways to mitigate climate change. This relevance, due to a shorter atmospheric lifetime and a stronger warming potential than carbon dioxide, is challenged by the still unexplained changes of atmospheric CH4 over the past decade. Emissions and concentrations of CH4 are continuing to increase, making CH4 the second most important human-induced greenhouse gas after carbon dioxide. Two major difficulties in reducing uncertainties come from the large variety of diffusive CH4 sources that overlap geographically, and from the destruction of CH4 by the very short-lived hydroxyl radical (OH). To address these difficulties, we have established a consortium of multi-disciplinary scientists under the umbrella of the Global Carbon Project to synthesize and stimulate research on the methane cycle, and producing regular (similar to biennial) updates of the global methane budget. This consortium includes atmospheric physicists and chemists, biogeochemists of surface and marine emissions, and socio-economists who study anthropogenic emissions. Following Kirschke et al. (2013), we propose here the first version of a living review paper that integrates results of top-down studies (exploiting atmospheric observations within an atmospheric inverse-modelling framework) and bottom-up models, inventories and data-driven approaches (including process-based models for estimating land surface emissions and atmospheric chemistry, and inventories for anthropogenic emissions, data-driven extrapolations). For the 2003-2012 decade, global methane emissions are estimated by top-down inversions at 558 TgCH(4) yr(-1), range 540-568. About 60% of global emissions are anthropogenic (range 50-65 %). Since 2010, the bottom-up global emission inventories have been closer to methane emissions in the most carbon-intensive Representative Concentrations Pathway (RCP8.5) and higher than all other RCP scenarios. Bottom-up approaches suggest larger global emissions (736 TgCH(4) yr(-1), range 596-884) mostly because of larger natural emissions from individual sources such as inland waters, natural wetlands and geological sources. Considering the atmospheric constraints on the top-down budget, it is likely that some of the individual emissions reported by the bottom-up approaches are overestimated, leading to too large global emissions. Latitudinal data from top-down emissions indicate a predominance of tropical emissions (similar to 64% of the global budget, <30 degrees N) as compared to mid (similar to 32 %, 30-60 degrees N) and high northern latitudes (similar to 4 %, 60-90 degrees N). Top-down inversions consistently infer lower emissions in China (similar to 58 TgCH(4) yr(-1), range 51-72, -14 %) and higher emissions in Africa (86 TgCH(4) yr(-1), range 73-108, + 19 %) than bottom-up values used as prior estimates. Overall, uncertainties for anthropogenic emissions appear smaller than those from natural sources, and the uncertainties on source categories appear larger for top-down inversions than for bottom-up inventories and models. The most important source of uncertainty on the methane budget is attributable to emissions from wetland and other inland waters. We show that the wetland extent could contribute 30-40% on the estimated range for wetland emissions. Other priorities for improving the methane budget include the following: (i) the development of process-based models for inland-water emissions, (ii) the intensification of methane observations at local scale (flux measurements) to constrain bottom-up land surface models, and at regional scale (surface networks and satellites) to constrain top-down inversions, (iii) improvements in the estimation of atmospheric loss by OH, and (iv) improvements of the transport models integrated in top-down inversions. The data presented here can be downloaded from the Carbon Dioxide Information Analysis Center ( and the Global Carbon Project.

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.