Atmospheric Methane

A new estimate from USA’s NOAA showed that the level of methane in the atmosphere in 2019 was the highest since record keeping began.


Methane is a gaseous compound and the simplest form of hydrocarbon class called alkane. It is a major component of natural gases. It is a potent greenhouse gas and its potential to cause global warming is 25 times higher than that of carbon dioxide.


Methane is emitted from both natural and anthropogenic sources. Natural sources include wetlands and microbes that convert organic matter into methane. These processes are accelerating due to increase in global temperature. Anthropogenic sources include leakage from oil and gas production sector. Livestock sector is also a major contributor as enteric fermentation in animals like cow and sheep produces methane.

Findings from the Study

The estimates were recently released by National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration of USA. It found that the methane concentration in atmosphere has increased to 1,875 parts per billion (ppb) in 2019 from 1,866 ppb in 2018. This is the highest since record keeping began in 1983. It is also the 2nd largest single year leap in more than 20 years.


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