A question about methane
“Crusaders will continue to retort that “the science is settled; it is time to act!”. But real science is never settled, nor is scientific truth determined by consensus or political diktats. Agreement with observations is the measure of scientific truth.”
I have been following some of the contributions of NZ author, Ian Wishart where he has shown where there were extreme weather events on a regular basis during a period when both temperatures and CO2 levels were lower and there is research that, taken over the whole at least cast some doubt on what much official climate science has to tell us.
CLIMATE CHANGE: A REASESSMENT IN THE CONTEXT OF THE LAST 3 YEARS
The point, for me has always been that the science used to demonstrate the need for destroying our whole ways of doing things for centuries is largely based on, to put it mildly, flawed science. I heard Wishart say in an interview yesterday that, yes the world is warming but there is nothing that we can do about it.
I can only concur.
This morning I came across an article (reproduced below) that cited the following recent scientific paper.
I find the conclusions of the above study hard to accept without a whole lot of further study and data.
However, it does lead one to pause and reflect that perhaps what one has accepted and used to make other conclusions may in fact be open to question.
For instance the following is something I have never questioned.
“Methane is a powerful greenhouses gas with a 100-year global warming potential 28-34 times that of CO2. Measured over a 20-year period, that ratio grows to 84-86 times. About 60% of global methane emissions are due to human activities”
On looking back, I am not sure that I have seen the research for the above.
Further, we are told that:
“The Earth’s atmospheric methane concentration has increased by about 260% since 1750—with the overwhelming percentage caused by human activity] and accounted for 20% of the total radiative forcing from all of the long-lived and globally mixed greenhouse gases, according to the 2021 Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report”
The mainstream talks about the release of methane from the melting of the Permafrost but is in denial about the release of methane from clathrates as well as the extent of melting of the ice in the Arctic and instead chooses to emphasise this:
“Farm animals around the world are causing devastating damage to the environment by burping and farting out immense amounts of greenhouse gas. We must eat less meat to slow down global warming and improve animal welfare”
My point in saying all this is to point out that the science is never setttled.
Throughout history there has always been a mainstream where the latest word is true anything before it is not.
Several hundred years ago the “scientific orthodoxy” was that the Sun revolved around the earth. But nobody really believes that anymore.
We now have a new Dogma that cannot be questioned at a time when the stakes have never been so high.
We are literally being told that we need to starve to “save the Planet“. Do we need to relinquish our own souls for that?
For what it is worth, I fully accept that the world is certainly warming (probably catastrophically), but there is not a thing that we can do about it and our best response is to “get right with God” and live the best possible lives we can – a version of the McPherson “at the end of extinction only love remains“, something that I have not heard in some time.
I mean it.
But that is the very opposite of what we are seeing.
The other point I would like to make is the degree to which scientists and academics will go to deny any evidence that challenges their own research (or the accepted Orthodoxy).
This was revealed to me in a whodunnit from the British TV series “Lewis” in which after following false leads in a murder case they realise that the murderer was a mathematics professor who shot his brilliant student who proved that the maths in his renowned book was wrong because he could not bear the reputational damage.
This is of course fiction, and the assassinations are more symbolic than real.
I cannot help but think of Guy McPherson in this regard.
If you truly believe that climate change is so rapid that we are all going to be extinct in a few years ago why do you need to defend your position so aggressively and indulge in the character assassinations of those that don’t agree with you?
What the f…l does it matter?!
It no longer matters to me because I am trying to free myself of ideologies and dogmas and I am endeavouring to open my mind to all possibilities.
“Methane’s Unexpected Cooling Impact Unveiled”
The following is an exposition of the research that came out just a few days ago and is presented in a mainstream science publication, SciTechDaily
“Most climate models do not yet account for a new University of California, Riverside discovery: methane traps a great deal of heat in Earth’s atmosphere, but also creates cooling clouds that offset 30% of the heat. – In addition to absorbing longwave energy, it turns out methane also absorbs incoming energy from the sun, known as shortwave energy. “This should warm the planet,” said Allen, who led the research project. “But counterintuitively, the shortwave absorption encourages changes in clouds that have a slight cooling effect.”
Climate Science Shock: Methane’s Unexpected Cooling Impact Unveiled
Impacts of potent greenhouse gas: a bit lower than previously thought.
UC Riverside researchers found that methane not only traps heat in the atmosphere but also creates cooling clouds that offset 30% of the heat. Methane’s absorption of shortwave energy counterintuitively causes a cooling effect and suppresses the increase in precipitation by 60%. This finding emphasizes the need to incorporate all known effects of greenhouse gases into climate models.
Most climate models do not yet account for a new University of California, Riverside discovery: methane traps a great deal of heat in Earth’s atmosphere, but also creates cooling clouds that offset 30% of the heat.
Greenhouse gases like methane create a kind of blanket in the atmosphere, trapping heat from Earth’s surface, called longwave energy, and preventing it from radiating out into space. This makes the planet hotter.
“A blanket doesn’t create heat, unless it’s electric. You feel warm because the blanket inhibits your body’s ability to send its heat into the air. This is the same concept,” explained Robert Allen, UCR assistant professor of Earth sciences.
In addition to absorbing longwave energy, it turns out methane also absorbs incoming energy from the sun, known as shortwave energy. “This should warm the planet,” said Allen, who led the research project. “But counterintuitively, the shortwave absorption encourages changes in clouds that have a slight cooling effect.”
This effect is detailed in the journal Nature Geoscience, alongside a second finding that the research team did not fully expect. Though methane generally increases the amount of precipitation, accounting for the absorption of shortwave energy suppresses that increase by 60%.
Both types of energy — longwave (from Earth) and shortwave (from sun) — escape from the atmosphere more than they are absorbed into it. The atmosphere needs compensation for the escaped energy, which it gets from heat created as water vapor condenses into rain, snow, sleet, or hail.
“Essentially, precipitation acts as a heat source, making sure the atmosphere maintains a balance of energy,” said study co-author Ryan Kramer, a researcher at NASA Goddard Space Flight Center and the University of Maryland, Baltimore County.
Methane changes this equation. By holding on to energy from the sun, methane is introducing heat the atmosphere no longer needs to get from precipitation.
Additionally, methane shortwave absorption decreases the amount of solar radiation reaching Earth’s surface. This in turn reduces the amount of water that evaporates. Generally, precipitation and evaporation are equal, so a decrease in evaporation leads to a decrease in precipitation.
“This has implications for understanding in more detail how methane and perhaps other greenhouses gases can impact the climate system,” Allen said. “Shortwave absorption softens the overall warming and rain-increasing effects but does not eradicate them at all.”
The research team discovered these findings by creating detailed computer models simulating both longwave and shortwave methane effects. Going forward, they would like to conduct additional experiments to learn how different concentrations of methane would impact the climate.
Scientific interest in methane has increased in recent years as levels of emissions have increased. Much comes from industrial sources, as well as from agricultural activities and landfill. Methane emissions are also likely to increase as frozen ground underlying the Arctic begins to thaw.
“It’s become a major concern,” said Xueying Zhao, UCR Earth and planetary sciences Ph.D. student and study co-author. “We need to better understand the effects all this methane will bring us by incorporating all known effects into our climate models.”
Kramer echoes the need for further study. “We’re good at measuring the concentration of greenhouse gases like methane in the atmosphere. Now the goal is to say with as much confidence as possible what those numbers mean to us. Work like this gets us toward that goal,” he said.
Reference: “Surface warming and wetting due to methane’s long-wave radiative effects muted by short-wave absorption” by Robert J. Allen, Xueying Zhao, Cynthia A. Randles, Ryan J. Kramer, Bjørn H. Samset and Christopher J. Smith, 16 March 2023, Nature Geoscience.
Of course, this will give ammunition to the sceptics (and that is regarded as a mortal sin). Here is an article cited by the Daily Sceptic
Methane: The Irrelevant Greenhouse Gas
Water vapor has already absorbed the very same infrared radiation that Methane might have absorbed.
Guest essay by Dr. Tom Sheahen
Q: I read that methane is an even worse greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide, and cattle are a big source of methane emissions. How are they going to regulate that? Not just cattle, but dairy cows as well! That doubles the worry.
Fortunately, there is really nothing to worry about, scientifically. The main thing to worry about is over-reacting politicians and another layer of unnecessary government regulations.
To understand methane’s role in the atmosphere, first it’s necessary to understand what absorption means. When light passes through a gas (sunlight through air, for example), some molecules in the gas might absorb a photon of light and jump up to an excited state. Every molecule is capable of absorbing some particular wavelengths of light, and no molecule absorbs all the light that comes along. This holds true across the entire electromagnetic spectrum – microwave, infrared, visible, and ultraviolet.
The process of absorption has been studied in great detail. In a laboratory set-up, a long tube is filled with a particular gas, and then a standard light is set up at one end; at the other end of the tube is a spectrometer, which measures how much light of each wavelength makes it through the tube without being absorbed. (Mirrors are placed so as to bounce the light back and forth several times, making the effective travel path much longer; this improves the precision of the data.) From such measurements, the probability of radiation being captured by a molecule is determined as a function of wavelength; the numerical expression of that is termed the absorption cross-section.
If you carried out such an experiment using ordinary air, you’d wind up with a mixture of results, since air is a mixture of various gases. It’s better to measure one pure gas at a time. After two centuries of careful laboratory measurements, we know which molecules can absorb which wavelengths of light, and how likely they are to do so.
All that data is contained in charts and tables of cross-sections. Formerly that meant a trip to the library, but nowadays it’s routinely downloaded from the internet. Once all the cross-sections are known, they can be put into a computer program and the total absorption by any gas mixture (real or imaginary) can be calculated.
The many different molecules absorb in different wavelength regions, known as bands. The principal components of air, nitrogen and oxygen, absorb mainly ultraviolet light. Nothing absorbs in the visible wavelength range, but there are several gases that have absorption bands in the infrared region. These are collectively known as the GreenHouse Gases (GHG), because absorbing infrared energy warms up the air – given the name greenhouse effect.
The adjacent figure shows how six different gases absorb radiation across the infrared range of wavelengths, from 1 to 16 microns (mm). The vertical scale is upside-down: 100% absorption is low, and 0% absorption (i.e., transparency) is high.
It’s important to realize that these are shown on a “per molecule” basis. Because water vapor (bottom bar of the figure) is much more plentiful in the atmosphere than any of the others, H2O absorbs vastly more energy and is by far the most important greenhouse gas. On any given day, H2O is a percent or two of the atmosphere; we call that humidity.
The second most important greenhouse gas is carbon dioxide (CO2), which (on a per-molecule basis) is six times as effective an absorber as H2O. However, CO2 is only about 0.04% of the atmosphere (400 parts per million), so it’s much less important than water vapor.
Now it’s necessary to scrutinize the figure very carefully. Looking across the wavelength scale at the bottom, H2O absorbs strongly in the 3-micron region, and again between 5 and 7 microns; then it absorbs to some degree beyond about 12 microns. CO2 has absorption bands centered around 2.5 microns, 4.3 microns, and has a broad band out beyond 13 microns. Consequently, CO2 adds a small contribution to the greenhouse effect. Notice that sometimes CO2 bands overlap with H2O bands, and with vastly more H2O present, CO2 doesn’t matter in those bands.
Looking at the second graph in the figure, methane (CH4) has narrow absorption bands at 3.3 microns and 7.5 microns (the red lines). CH4 is 20 times more effective an absorber than CO2 – in those bands. However, CH4 is only 0.00017% (1.7 parts per million) of the atmosphere. Moreover, both of its bands occur at wavelengths where H2O is already absorbing substantially. Hence, any radiation that CH4 might absorb has already been absorbed by H2O. The ratio of the percentages of water to methane is such that the effects of CH4 are completely masked by H2O. The amount of CH4 must increase 100-fold to make it comparable to H2O.
Because of that, methane is irrelevant as a greenhouse gas. The high per-molecule absorption cross section of CH4 makes no difference at all in our real atmosphere.
Unfortunately, this numerical reality is overlooked by most people. There is a lot of misinformation floating around, causing needless worry. The tiny increases in methane associated with cows may elicit a few giggles, but it absolutely cannot be the basis for sane regulations or national policy.
They also cite the following:
Study: ‘Methane emissions have a negligible impact’ on climate
Princeton Physicist Dr. Will Happer has new study: Methane has ‘immeasurably small’ impact on climate
Scientists Dr. Richard Lindzen & Dr. Will Happer: ‘The warming added each year from methane is about 10 times less than the small warming from carbon dioxide’
Here is a recent article that tends to back up the contention of Ian Wishart that increased warming does not always correlate with increased CO2 emissions and that often the cyclical warming has caused higher CO2 emissions.
I have provided the rebuttal from the factcheckers as well.
“Of course, nobody denies that CO2 has warming properties in the atmosphere. The debate within science over the human contribution to warming, now largely ignored, if not actually demonised by mainstream media, is over the extent. Some scientists say it is a lot, many others say it is negligible. The notion that the matter is ‘settled’ is little more than a political corruption of the scientific process.”
Dramatic new findings from two climate science professors suggest that an increase in carbon dioxide in the atmosphere follows a rise in temperature rather than coming before it and causing it, throwing into doubt the whole of the current theory of human-driven global warming.
The scientists propose that higher temperatures increase the natural processes of soil respiration and ocean outgassing, and hence boost natural CO2 emissions. If confirmed, the information destroys the so-called ‘settled’ science basis upon which the command-and-control Net Zero political agenda depends.
Demetris Koutsoyiannis and Zbigniew Kundzewicz sequenced the changes in temperatures and CO2 growth rates from 1980 to 2019 from widely available sources, and discovered that CO2 values lagged temperature by about six months. The obvious point is made that in attempting to prove causality – as climate alarmists do by arguing that increases in temperature are the result of increases in human-caused CO2 – cause cannot lag effect.
The period under review is shown by the graph below, which tracks the steady rise in CO2 and not-so-steady increase in global temperature from 1980.
At first glance, both lines are rising and appear to be correlated. But as we have seen in previous Daily Sceptic articles, the UAH satellite record displays the two long pauses that have characterised the recent temperature record. The two professors note that the erratic behaviour of the temperature line contrasts with the smooth trend of CO2. From this graph, the authors suggest it “looks impossible to infer causality”.
The scientists are not the only researchers struggling to find evidence to support the notion that carbon dioxide – human-caused or otherwise – is the global climate thermostat knob. In 2015, a group of scientists led by Professor Ole Humlum of the University of Oslo found a similar monthly lag between CO2 and temperature. Again, using a selection of widely available datasets for the period 1980 to 2011, the researchers found that changes in CO2 always lagged changes in temperature. The lag was around 9-10 months for global surface air temperatures, and about nine months for lower troposphere temperatures.
Discussion of the climate role of CO2 in the atmosphere has largely disappeared in mainstream media, on the spurious grounds that the science is settled. At the BBC, for instance, debate on the subject is more or less banned. Humans only produce 4% of the annual CO2 that enters the atmosphere, and if this is seen to have little effect in changing the climate, the reason for pressing ahead with a ruinous Net Zero policy evaporates. Trillions of dollars for green subsidies, development work and academic grants, along with huge numbers of jobs and countless virtuous opinions and reputations, suggest a full understanding may take a little time.
As we have seen, in many scientific circles the climate role of CO2 is still the subject of active debate. No one doubts that the gas has warming properties, but Professor William Happer of Princeton suggests that CO2 becomes “saturated” once it reaches a certain level. Noting the role of the infrared spectrum, he argues that most, if not all, the heat that is going to be trapped will have already been radiated back by the CO2 molecules evenly distributed in the current atmosphere. Of course, Happer’s research is the subject of argument with other eminent scientists, but it would help explain why so little automatic connection can be detected between CO2 and temperature in the current, historical and palaeoclimate records.
Let us go back in time to the palaeo record and see what evidence there is for connections between CO2 and temperature. In an essay published in 2014 on the climate science site Watts Up With That, reference was made to the seminal paper on the Vostok Ice Core, Petit et al (1999). This examined the chemical signals in an Antarctica ice core representing 422,766 years of snow accumulation, and from this it was concluded that CO2 lags temperature during the onset of glaciations by several thousand years. Of course, this suggests that CO2 has little influence on temperature change at these times. The thermostat knob is switched off.
Reading right to left, the above graph shows clearly that the temperature plunge to glacial conditions around 120,000 years ago was not matched by an immediate CO2 fall. There are similar time lags of around 8,000 years in other glacial cycles going back 450,000 years. The essay concluded that geochemical cycles made it inevitable that CO2 and methane will correlate with temperature, but it was “totally invalid” to use this relationship as evidence that CO2 was responsible for forcing the climate.
And finally, let’s look at the record going back to the start of life on Earth.
In this timeframe, the monthly lags in the current record obviously disappear, as do the thousands of years disconnect in the historical ice core evidence. But again, where is the link? Huge variations over millions of years are seen. At the moment, Earth is in a colder period with long-term CO2 denudation. A little more of both might even be helpful.
Chris Morrison is the Daily Sceptic’s Environment Editor.
You can see what the fact checkers said about this HERE
Daily Sceptic ‘Fact Checked’ Over Claim That CO2 Increase Lags Behind Global Warming So Cannot Cause It – But That is What the Data Show
The author of the above article wrote a response to the above.
3 thoughts on “A question about methane”
I’ve already known that Water Vapor is a stronger GHG than CO2.
With Geo-Engineering creating, cloud condensation nuclei. It often causes the particles to gather more H20 before becoming a droplet. Then we have downpours.
With regard to methane and natural heating of the planet. I’m sure some have been keeping an eye on sea surface temps. and Temp. Anomalies. Next to Svalbard.
All the under-sea volcanoes have been going off for, years now.
There was that Canadian Professor. With a cat. I have forgotten his name.
I think he debated Dane Wiggington.
The professor in another video explained the high sea temperature’s near Svalbard. As part of the Gulf Stream. (being extra warm) Going up and then cycling back.
But he also denied Geo-engineering.
I remember I guy from Greenland/Danish? Who recorded surface temps, at that location. Reaching 15C surface, during the winter. I can’t remember his name either.
Canadian Prof. is bald with glasses. Greenlander has a beard, with videos of ice on the shore, while he’s talking.
I remembered, It’s Paul Beckwith and the channel “GoingSouth”
I haven’t watched either for years.