Claim: Mystery surrounding methane plateau explained

Whatever. Methane is irrelevant as a greenhouse gas.

The media release is below.

While methane can act as a greenhouse gas, the IR spectrum it absorbs in is already saturated by water vapor.


Mystery surrounding methane plateau explained

The concentration of atmospheric methane has been steadily increasing since the dawn of the industrial age – except for a mysterious plateau between 1999 and 2006. A new study suggests that this plateau was a result of lower industrial output, and that it ended due to an increase in biological sources, for example agricultural activity. Methane is a potent greenhouse gas, and increasing levels can affect atmospheric chemistry, ozone generation, and the water vapor cycle. Atmospheric methane levels have almost tripled since preindustrial times, yet researchers remain puzzled as to why this trend plateaued between 1999 and 2006. Hinrich Schaefer et al. reconstructed the global history of methane sources over the past 35 years by using carbon isotope data from ice cores, archived air, and a global network of monitoring stations. Using the data to run multiple different simulations, the authors found that the best explanation for the beginning of the plateau is a reduction in thermogenic emissions, which include emissions from fossil fuel use, as well as a potential increase in the capacity of natural methane sinks. As for the end of the plateau and resumed increases in methane levels, this can likely be attributed to biogenic sources. Although the exact biological source cannot be determined, the authors propose that agriculture may be a key contributor, based on the distribution of methane sources.


3 thoughts on “Claim: Mystery surrounding methane plateau explained”

  1. As a child in WV, there were many areas where one could smell methane out in the open. There was never enough to hurt a person, but it was there all the same. (I’m aware that pure CH4 is odorless, but impurities gave it a distinctive odor). When I go there now, the odor is gone. Deep well gas simply doesn’t leak as much as the old shallow wells did. The idea that cow farts and termite toots are warming the world is laughable. PS: Sorry for the rant. Politics are rampant now in Florida–Voted early just to get away from them.

  2. Who cares? Methane is such a tiny and insignificant greenhouse gas that it’s not worth thinking about. Besides, the spectral absorption lines of methane are the same as water vapor and CO2, so heat is absorbed (and radiated) by water vapor and CO2 first and they leave methane with no contribution to warming anyway.

  3. Is it not also possible that much of our methane was trapped in the Earth’s core when our planet condensed and that it is still oozing out of the core?

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