Articles | Volume 22, issue 23
Research article
 | Highlight paper
05 Dec 2022
Research article | Highlight paper |  | 05 Dec 2022

Estimating emissions of methane consistent with atmospheric measurements of methane and δ13C of methane

Sourish Basu, Xin Lan, Edward Dlugokencky, Sylvia Michel, Stefan Schwietzke, John B. Miller, Lori Bruhwiler, Youmi Oh, Pieter P. Tans, Francesco Apadula, Luciana V. Gatti, Armin Jordan, Jaroslaw Necki, Motoki Sasakawa, Shinji Morimoto, Tatiana Di Iorio, Haeyoung Lee, Jgor Arduini, and Giovanni Manca

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This preprint is open for discussion and under review for Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics (ACP).
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Cited articles

Allan, W., Struthers, H., and Lowe, D. C.: Methane Carbon Isotope Effects Caused by Atomic Chlorine in the Marine Boundary Layer: Global Model Results Compared with Southern Hemisphere Measurements, J. Geophys. Res.-Atmos., 112, D04306,, 2007. a, b
Andrews, A. E., Kofler, J. D., Trudeau, M. E., Williams, J. C., Neff, D. H., Masarie, K. A., Chao, D. Y., Kitzis, D. R., Novelli, P. C., Zhao, C. L., Dlugokencky, E. J., Lang, P. M., Crotwell, M. J., Fischer, M. L., Parker, M. J., Lee, J. T., Baumann, D. D., Desai, A. R., Stanier, C. O., De Wekker, S. F. J., Wolfe, D. E., Munger, J. W., and Tans, P. P.: CO2, CO, and CH4 measurements from tall towers in the NOAA Earth System Research Laboratory's Global Greenhouse Gas Reference Network: instrumentation, uncertainty analysis, and recommendations for future high-accuracy greenhouse gas monitoring efforts, Atmos. Meas. Tech., 7, 647–687,, 2014. a
Basu, S., Guerlet, S., Butz, A., Houweling, S., Hasekamp, O., Aben, I., Krummel, P., Steele, P., Langenfelds, R., Torn, M., Biraud, S., Stephens, B., Andrews, A., and Worthy, D.: Global CO2 fluxes estimated from GOSAT retrievals of total column CO2, Atmos. Chem. Phys., 13, 8695–8717,, 2013. a
Basu, S., Krol, M., Butz, A., Clerbaux, C., Sawa, Y., Machida, T., Matsueda, H., Frankenberg, C., Hasekamp, O. P., and Aben, I.: The Seasonal Variation of the CO2 Flux over Tropical Asia Estimated from GOSAT, CONTRAIL, and IASI, Geophys. Res. Lett., 41, 1809–1815,, 2014. a
Basu, S., Miller, J. B., and Lehman, S.: Separation of biospheric and fossil fuel fluxes of CO2 by atmospheric inversion of CO2 and 14CO2 measurements: Observation System Simulations, Atmos. Chem. Phys., 16, 5665–5683,, 2016. a, b
Executive editor
Methane is a potent greenhouse gas and an important sink of atmospheric OH radicals, which determine the global atmospheric oxidation capacity. CH4 has increased since pre-industrial times until the year 2000, after which its global concentration has remained relatively stable. Since 2007, it is rapidly increasing again for reasons that are not well understood. The current paper analyses source specific methane emissions that are likely responsible for the recent increase. Global CH4 sources are determined using variational inversion based on measurements of methane and its isotope signatures (δ13C). This latter provide better constraints on the contributions of microbial and fossil fuel CH4 sources than the concentrations alone. The analysis points to a more strongly increasing contribution of microbial sources since 2007 than predicted by previous assessments (Global Carbon Project). These findings have the potential to lead to a major reassessment of the global methane budget.
Short summary
Atmospheric methane (CH4) has been growing steadily since 2007 for reasons that are not well understood. Here we determine sources of methane using a technique informed by atmospheric measurements of CH4 and its isotopologue 13CH4. Measurements of 13CH4 provide for better separation of microbial, fossil, and fire sources of methane than CH4 measurements alone. Compared to previous assessments such as the Global Carbon Project, we find a larger microbial contribution to the post-2007 increase.
Final-revised paper