Methane is a strong greenhouse gas that finds way into the atmosphere via both human activities and natural processes. Human activities of adding methane into the atmosphere include energy production and agriculture.
In a bid to ascertain human emissions of methane, researchers need a complete view of methane cycle in the atmosphere. Researchers need to know the magnitude of inputs and output of both natural and human sources. The duration of presence of methane in the atmosphere is also needed for this.
To ascertain this, a team of researchers from the University of Rochester, University of California, and GEOMAR Helmholtz Centre for Ocean Research employed data science. This study was to determine how much methane oceans emit into the atmosphere each year.
The results of the study is published in Nature Communications. The study fills a longstanding gap for methane cycle research and will also help climate scientists better gauge the extent of human activities. Meanwhile, the study for methane is part of a larger study to better understand how greenhouse gases, including carbon and nitrogen, impact the climate.
Accurate Estimate of Methane Emissions Important for Methane Budget
The Global Carbon Project- the international consortium of climate scientists updates its methane budget every three years. The methane budget helps to understand the current state of inputs and outputs of the overall global methane cycle.
Importantly, the methane budget helps to place in context human methane emissions and provides a baseline against to assess changes in the future. Earlier, the ocean has been an uncertain term for methane budgets. However, the natural release of methane from oceans into the atmosphere is verified, not necessarily the volume.
Meanwhile, in the methane budget, uncertainty in one factor adds uncertainty to all other components. This thus limits the researchers’ ability to project changes in the global methane system. This is the reason for need of accurate estimate of methane emissions from the oceans.