Methane is integral to ‘alarming’ rise in gases warming the planet

Methane in the atmosphere has seen its fourth-highest annual increase in 2022, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration reported, part of an overall increase in planet-warming greenhouse gases that the agency called it “alarming”.

Although carbon dioxide generally receives more attention for its role in climate change, scientists are particularly concerned about methane because it traps much more heat – about 87 times more than carbon dioxide on a time scale. 20 years old.

Methane, a gas emitted from sources such as landfills, oil and natural gas systems and livestock, has risen particularly rapidly since 2020. Scientists say it shows no signs of slowing despite urgent calls from scientists and policymakers who say time is running out to meet the warming limits in the Paris Agreement and avoid the most destructive impacts of climate change.

“Observations collected by NOAA scientists in 2022 show that greenhouse gas emissions continue to increase at an alarming rate and will persist in the atmosphere for thousands of years,” the administrator said. NOAA, Rick Spinrad, in a statement accompanying the report. “Now is the time to tackle greenhouse gas pollution and reduce human-made emissions as we continue to build toward a climate-ready nation.”

Methane increased by 14 parts per billion to 1,911.9 ppb in 2022. It increased slightly faster in 2020 (15.20 ppb) and 2021 (17.75 ppb).

Methane gas leaks from natural gas wells and pipelines and emanates from manure ponds, rotting landfills and directly from livestock.

“Flocks of ruminant animals like goats, sheep and cows in particular are one of the biggest sources of man-made methane,” said Stephen Porder, professor of ecology and assistant provost for sustainability at Brown University.

Scientists continue to find that methane emissions from both the fossil fuel industry and the environment are vastly underestimated.

The exact amounts of methane from human activity relative to natural environments in recent years are not currently known, but scientists say humans have little control over ecosystems that begin to emit more methane due to of warming.

“If this rapid increase is about wetlands and natural systems responding to climate change, then it’s very scary because there’s not much we can do to stop it,” said University professor Drew Shindell. Duke and former NASA climatologist. “If methane leaks from the fossil fuel sector, we can adopt regulations. But we cannot regulate what wetlands do.

Scientists are also investigating how the persistent three-year La Nina pattern may have influenced methane emissions due to higher precipitation levels in tropical wetlands.

Shindell said human-caused methane emissions account for about 26% of the warming caused by human activities.

Porder said switching from fossil fuels and reducing the number of ruminants raised are “surefire ways to reduce methane in the atmosphere and limit warming.”

The International Energy Agency estimates that 70% of 2022 methane emissions could be reduced with existing technology.

The NOAA report also indicates that carbon dioxide and nitrous oxide have seen significant growth in 2022.

Carbon dioxide levels reached 417.06 ppm in 2022 and are now 50% higher than pre-industrial levels. Nitrous oxide, which according to NOAA is the third most significant greenhouse gas emitted by humans, rose to 335.7 ppb, largely due to fertilizers and manure from the agricultural sector in expansion.


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