Potent Greenhouse Gas Methane on the Rise
While much of the world is now focussing on reducing the production of carbon dioxide, a more potent greenhouse gas has been on the rise. Methane levels have begun a slow creep upward after about a decade of stability. Methane is composed of one atom of carbon and four atoms of hydrogen and is even more efficient at keeping the atmosphere warm than carbon dioxide (one carbon atom and two oxygen atoms)
Methane gas occurs naturally as methane hydrate, in coal, and in natural wetlands. These are considered 'sinks' or banks of methane where it is sequestered. The tundra area of the northern hemisphere hold massive quantities of this gas. Human activities release methane into the air - mining coal, cultivating rice fields, livestock production, forest and grassland fires.
As temperatures worldwide inch upward, the vast northern tundra regions release more methane both during the summer melting months and also during the refreezing process adding to the greenhouse effect in a positive feedback mechanism.
"After eight years of near-zero growth in atmospheric methane concentrations, levels have again started to rise.
"This is not good news for future global warming," says CSIRO's Dr Paul Fraser, who co-authored a paper to be published in Geophysical Research Letters, a journal of the American Geophysccical Union." Environmental News Network