Methane Emissions Rising… with No End in Sight

May 12, 2014 • Daily Email Recap

Wetland emissions mean more methane


By Alex Kirby

Methane emissions are rising globally because wetlands – especially in northern latitudes – are releasing more than anyone had realised, a team of researchers based in Canada says.

LONDON, 1 May – The bad news is that global emissions of methane appear to be rising. The worse news is that scientists believe there’s much more to come in the form of releases from many of the world’s wetlands.

Methane is emitted from agriculture and fossil fuel use, as well as natural sources such as microbes in saturated wetland soils. It is a powerful greenhouse gas, and in the short term it does much more damage than the far more abundant carbon dioxide.

Just how much more damaging it is is something scientists keep updating. There is now international agreement that methane is 34 times more potent than CO2 over a century, but 84 times more over a much shorter timespan – just 20 years. And two decades can be crucial in trying to slow the rate of climate change.

Professor Merritt Turetsky, of the department of integrative biology at the University of Guelph, Canada, is the lead author of a paper published in the journal Global Change Biology.

The paper is based on an analysis of global methane emissions examining almost 20,000 field data measurements collected from 70 sites across Arctic, temperate and tropical regions. Click here to continue reading.

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