Methane Or Carbon Dioxide Global Warming – Infographic published with permission from the authors of “Increasing anthropogenic methane emissions equally from agricultural and fossil fuel sources.” (Credit: Jackson et al. 2020, Environmental Research Letters)
Last month, an international team of scientists, including Berkeley Lab’s William Riley and Qing Zhu, published an update on the global methane budget as part of the Global Carbon Project. They estimate annual global emissions of methane at nearly 570 million tons for the decade 2008 to 2017, which is 5% higher than the emissions recorded for the early 2000s and the equivalent of 189 million cars. more in global ways.
Methane Or Carbon Dioxide Global Warming
Anthropogenic sources such as agriculture, waste, and fossil fuels contribute to 60% of these emissions, while wetlands are the largest natural source of methane. Riley, a senior scientist at Berkeley Lab, focused on modeling how Earth’s organisms—such as wetlands—interact with climate. Working with Zhu, they built one of the computer models that allowed scientists to measure these methane emissions from wetlands worldwide.
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Berkeley Lab scientist Bill Riley studies how Earth’s ecosystems interact with climate and climate change. (Credit: Berkeley Lab)
Although global liquid methane emissions have not changed significantly between the last decade and the early 2000s, these projections continue to show some of the largest uncertainties in the estimation of the global methane budget. Riley explained his team’s involvement in the Global Carbon Project and their efforts to reduce this uncertainty.
It is a loosely organized group of international scientists working since 2001 to build global greenhouse gas budgets, among other efforts. These emissions include carbon dioxide, methane and nitrous oxide. Much of the work is focused on defining these budgets, understanding why they may change, and what the scientific community can do to better estimate them.
As part of the Reducing Uncertainty in Biogeochemical Interactions by Synthesis and Computation (RUBISCO) project, which is a Scientific Focus Area at Berkeley Lab, we are working on global carbon budgets. The Berkeley Lab team built one of the world’s original cold methane models, which is why we were asked to participate in the Global Carbon Project.
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Methane comes from a variety of anthropogenic sources such as landfills, agriculture, and fossil fuels, as well as natural systems such as wetlands. It is the second most important greenhouse gas to which humans contribute. Since pre-industrial times, increases in natural methane have contributed to a quarter of the global warming effect of greenhouse gases. You are tall.
But unlike carbon dioxide, methane has a short life in the atmosphere. If we make big changes in our emissions, methane can be eliminated much faster.
There are many sources of methane. To work out a budget you have to add them all up. We can estimate the contributions of man-made methane emissions. However, it is difficult to estimate methane emissions from biogenic sources such as wetlands, which account for 20% to 30% of the global methane emissions budget.
In wetlands, methane is produced by microbial activity. Once produced, there are several ways in which methane is consumed and transported from soil to the atmosphere: plants, bubbling and diffusion. All these processes are uncertain in themselves and putting them together makes it difficult to make predictions. Plants, for example, can extract methane from the soil and release it directly into the atmosphere, bypassing the oxidation step that is otherwise active in the atmosphere when the soil is not submerged. It is a more complex system of physical and biological processes compared to the modeling and prediction of carbon dioxide emissions.
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It is also challenging to identify the amount of local area under wetlands from satellite images. The cover of temporary wetlands, for example, can change over a period of time or over several years due to water flow. Also, wetlands often have emergent vegetation, which can make remote sensing calculations difficult.
As part of the Global Carbon Project, there are 13 major modeling agencies that use 13 independent models to estimate wetland methane emissions, and we are one of those groups. Our model, which is integrated into the Department of Energy’s Earth System Model, E3SM (Energy Exascale Earth System Model), represents distributed wetlands and includes many processes related to landscapes. these. As with other models, variables such as temperature, precipitation, and methane emission data collected regularly from 80 wetland sites that are part of the global FLUXNET network are used to analyze and improve the model. In the site-level comparisons, we also include information on the type of wetland: eddies, swamps, marshes, etc.; plants, which are carbon inputs into the system; microbial activity; including estimates of the depth of the water table, which is a potential regulator of methane emissions.
This information allows us to examine the various processes and interactions that affect our emissions estimates. But these complex physical processes also introduce a large amount of uncertainty into the prediction of methane emissions. Our goal is to build a model that represents these important processes in a mechanistic way that can be directly tested against observations from the field.
It also does not indicate which method is best. But I think there is value in using the full spectrum of models, from the simplest to the most nuanced. Ultimately, we all hope to improve the prediction of methane emissions from wetlands.
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The final emissions reported in the paper are an average of the estimates from each of the 13 models.
Wetlands are estimated to account for 20% to 30% of the global methane budget, but emissions vary by latitude. Currents are greater in the tropics than in high latitudes and temperate regions. (Credit: Bernard Hermant, Unsplash)
There is a large latitudinal gradient in methane emissions in wetlands. Currents are greater in the tropics than in high latitudes and temperate regions. It’s very hot in the tropics, so it gets a lot more biological activity and methane production than from high latitudes where it’s really cold. Annual emissions of more than 110 million tons from wetlands are estimated at about 10 million tons from high latitudes.
This process is not surprising and has been known for a long time. Also, those emissions are natural, so they will continue, unless we drain the wetlands, which will happen.
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Our simulations suggest that methane emissions will continue to increase as the world warms and atmospheric carbon dioxide concentrations increase. Our team is participating in GCP’s ongoing efforts to coordinate future types of evaluations from various global modeling groups.
We are thinking about using machine learning tools to help build relationships between wetland methane emissions and all the factors that are thought to control these emissions. The input will be emission data collected at FLUXNET wetland sites together with other relevant variables – wetland characteristics, vegetation, climate – related to these areas. Once you know the strengths of the relationship between these variables and methane emissions, you can extrapolate them to other wetlands for which we don’t have emissions data. Therefore, such an approach would require testing in a subset of situations where threshold observations are available to ensure appropriateness of local to global additions.
We are also interested in integrating these types of observational machine learning models with more mechanistic models, hoping to improve the overall prediction of global agents.
Founded in 1931 on the belief that the greatest scientific challenges are best tackled by teams, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and its scientists have been recognized with 13 Nobel Prizes. Today, Berkeley researchers The Lab develops sustainable energy and environmental solutions, creates useful new applications, pushes the boundaries of computing, and explores the mysteries of life, matter, and the universe. Scientists from around the world rely on the laboratory’s facilities for their own scientific discoveries. Berkeley Lab is a multi-national laboratory, maintained by the University of California for the US Department of Energy’s Office of Science.
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The DOE Office of Science is the largest supporter of basic research in the physical sciences in the United States, and works to address some of the most pressing challenges of our time. For more information, please visit energy.gov/science.Global warming potential (GWP) is a measure of how much infrared heat radiation a greenhouse gas adds to the atmosphere absorbs in a given time, as a mass of radiation that will be absorbed by the same amount of carbon dioxide (CO
. For other gases it depends on how well the gas absorbs infrared heat radiation, how quickly the gas leaves the atmosphere, and the time frame considered. Equivalent of carbon dioxide (CO
Which heats the earth as much as that gas. It therefore provides a common scale for measuring the climate effects of different gases. It is calculated as GWP times the mass of other gases.
That is, for example, leaking one ton of methane is equivalent to releasing 81.2 tons of carbon dioxide. Similarly, one ton of nitrous oxide, from manure or rice fields for example, is equivalent to 273 tons of carbon dioxide.
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Carbon dioxide is indicated. It has a GWP of 1 regardless of the time of use. Co
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