Department of Climate and Space Sciences and Engineering in the College of Engineering at the University of Michigan

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Professor Kort Interviewed on Atmospheric Methane Surge for Science Magazine

Posted: December 22, 2016

Professor Kort Interviewed on Atmospheric Methane Surge for Science Magazine

Climate & Space Professor Eric Kort was interviewed about the possible causes of a 3% rise in atmospheric methane since 2007 in an article published this week in Science magazine. 

From the article:

"Carbon dioxide (CO2) is not the only greenhouse gas on the rise. Since 2007, methane—which molecule-for-molecule has 30 times the warming effect of CO2—has risen by more than 3%. Befuddled scientists have tried to pin the growth on increased natural gas drilling, rising rice cultivation, and a surge in bovine belches. But none of these explanations has stuck.

"Now, two more processes have gained ground as possible culprits, according to new work presented here last week at a meeting of the American Geophysical Union (AGU). In one scenario, methane’s rise may come in part from a drop in hydroxyl, a chemical that acts as an atmospheric detergent; in the other, the gas is emanating from tropical wetlands flooded by heavy rains in recent years. Because climate change is expected to increase tropical rainfall, this methane could be a new signal that “the tropics are changing fast,” says Euan Nisbet, a climate researcher at Royal Holloway, University of London—and a warning that methane may continue to rise as the world warms in a positive climate feedback. 'Methane may be a tropical parallel to Arctic sea ice,' Nisbet says."

Read the full article here.