Methane emissions reach 1,875 parts per billion

Methane emissions reach 1,875 parts per billion

Methane
levels at all-time high after near-record increase in gas 28 times
more potent than carbon dioxide

Dire numbers
come amid an escalating climate change emergency

the
Independent
,

13
April, 2020

Global methane levels
have hit an all-time high after what appears to be a near-record
yearly atmospheric increase in the potent greenhouse gas.


The
concentration of methane in the Earth’s atmosphere reached nearly
1,875 parts per billion in 2019, up from the previous year’s
1,866 parts per billion, according to 
preliminary
data
 collected
by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).

If
confirmed later this year, it would be the second highest increase in
methane levels in more than two decades. The NOAA began collecting
global methane data in 1983.

Though
methane remains in the atmosphere for only a few years, it is 28
times more powerful than carbon dioxide at trapping the sun’s
heat, and it poses an increasingly grave threat to efforts to tackle
escalating global heating.

Here
we are. It’s 2020, and it’s not only not dropping. It’s not
level. In fact, it’s one of the fastest growth rates we’ve seen
in the last 20 years,” Drew Shindell, a climate scientist at
Duke University, told 
Scientific
American
.

Scientists
last year warned higher methane levels will make it even harder to
reach targets set by the 
Paris
climate change agreement
.

Though
uncertain about the source of the year-on-year increases, NOAA
researchers have previously said much of it was 
coming
from the tropics
.

They
believe it is likely due to microbial changes in methane-belching
tropical wetlands, potentially caused by warmer temperatures in what
amounts to a dangerous feedback loop.

The
hypothesis is that as the climate warms the efficiency of the
microbial communities that convert organic matter into methane
increases.

But
Rob Jackson, professor of Earth system science at Stanford
University, said some of last year’s surge was likely also due to
increases from agriculture and natural gas use.

In
its annual 
sustainability
report
 released
last week, the fossil fuel company Shell revealed its annual methane
emissions stood at 91,000 tonnes, down from 92,000 a year earlier.



Meanwhile…


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