Tuesday, July 02, 2024

Global Atmospheric Methane (CH₄) | NASA Earth Observatory

Global Atmospheric Methane (CH₄) | NASA Earth Observatory

Methane (CH₄) is a powerful greenhouse gas that traps heat 28 times more effectively than carbon dioxide over a 100-year timescale. Concentrations of methane have increased by more than 150% since industrial activities and intensive agriculture began. After carbon dioxide, methane is responsible for about 20% of climate change in the twentieth century. Methane is produced under conditions where little to no oxygen is available. 

About 30% of methane emissions are produced by wetlands, including ponds, lakes and rivers. Another 20% is produced by agriculture, due to a combination of livestock, waste management and rice cultivation. Activities related to oil, gas, and coal extraction release an additional 30%. The remainder of methane emissions come from minor sources such as wildfires, biomass burning, permafrost, termites, dams, and the ocean. 

Scientists around the world are working to better understand the budget of methane with the ultimate goals of reducing greenhouse gas emissions and improving prediction of environmental change. 

The NASA SVS visualization presented here shows the complex patterns of methane emissions produced around the globe and throughout the year from the different sources described above. The visualization was created using output from the Global Modeling and Assimilation Office (GMAO), GEOS modeling system, developed and maintained by scientists at NASA. Wetland emissions were estimated by the LPJ-wsl model, which simulates the temperature and moisture dependent methane emission processes using a variety of satellite data to determine what parts of the globe are covered by wetlands. Other methane emission sources come from inventories of human activity.

Video Credit: NASA Scientific Visualization Studio

Visualizations: Helen-Nicole Kostis

Scientific Consulting: Lesley Ott, Brad Weir

Duration: 2 minutes

Release Date: July 1, 2024

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