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Global Climate Change DigestArchives of the
Global Climate Change Digest

A Guide to Information on Greenhouse Gases and Ozone Depletion
Published July 1988 through June 1999

FROM VOLUME 1, NUMBER 3, SEPTEMBER 1988

PROFESSIONAL PUBLICATIONS...
ATMOSPHERIC METHANE


Item #d88sep14

"Fossil Carbon Sources of Atmospheric Methane," W.M. Sackett, T.R. Barber, Nature, 334(6179), 201, July 21, 1988.


Item #d88sep15

"Climatic and CH4 Cycle Implications of Glacial-Interglacial CH4 Change in the Vostok Ice Core," D. Raynaud (Lab. Glaciologie, BP 96 38402, St. Martin d'Héres Cedex, France), J. Chappellaz et al., Nature, 333(6174), 655-657, June 16, 1988.

Strong evidence from analysis of the Vostok ice core shows CH4 concentrations increased from 0.34 to 0.62 ppmv between the end of the penultimate ice age and the following interglacial, about 160-120 kyr BP. The contributions of CH4 and associated chemical feedback to the global warming is estimated to be about 25% of that due to CO2.


Item #d88sep16

"The Global Distribution of Methane in the Troposphere," L.P. Steele (Coop. Inst. Res. Environ. Sci., Univ. Colorado/NOAA, Boulder, CO 80309), P.J. Fraser et al., J. Atmos. Chem., 5, 125-171, June 1987.

Methane in air samples collected at roughly weekly intervals for 2 years, at 23 globally distributed sites in the NOAA/GMCC cooperative flask sampling network, was measured by gas chromatography with a flame ionization detector at a precision of 0.2%. A complete seasonal cycle of methane at the South Pole is reported for the first time. Globally averaged background concentrations in the marine boundary layer calculated for this two-year period indicate an average increase of 12.8 ppb per year. Evidence is presented that shows a slowing of the methane growth rate.


Item #d88sep17

"Methane Concentration in the Glacial Atmosphere Was Only Half That of the Preindustrial Holocene," B. Stauffer (Phys. Inst., Univ. Bern, 3012 Bern, Switzerland), E. Lochbronner et al., Nature, 332(6167), 812-814, Apr. 28, 1988.

Measurements on ice core samples from Byrd Station (Antarctica) and Dye 3 (Greenland) show atmospheric methane concentration was only about 350 ppbv during the last glaciation, 650 ppbv for a mean preindustrial level, and 1,650 ppbv today.


Item #d88sep18

"Continuing Worldwide Increase in Tropospheric Methane, 1978 to 1987," D.R. Blake (Dept. Chem., Univ. California, Irvine CA 92717), F.S. Rowland, Science, 239(4844), 1129-31, Mar. 4, 1988.

The average worldwide tropospheric mixing ratio of methane has increased by 11%, from 1.52 ppmv in January 1978 to 1.684 ppmv in September 1987, for an increment of 0.016+0.001 ppmv per year. The growth in tropospheric methane may have increased the water concentration in the stratosphere by as much as 28% since the 1940s and 45% over the past two centuries, and thus could have increased the mass of precipitable water available for formation of polar stratospheric clouds.


Item #d88sep19

"Atmospheric Methane: Trends Over the Last 10,000 Years," M.A.K. Khalil (Inst. Atmos. Sci., Oregon Grad. Ctr., 19600 N.W. Von Neumann Dr., Beaverton OR 97006), R.A. Rasmussen, Atmos. Environ., 21(11), 2445-52, Nov. 1987.

A construction of atmospheric methane over the last 10,000 years shows that it has increased to more than double the natural levels of a century ago. Observations show that CH4 concentrations remained virtually unchanged over thousands of years until about a few hundred years ago. Rates of increase are explained by a global mass balance model. In the model, the increase of emissions from sources affected by human activities is taken to be proportional to the population, and the atmospheric lifetime of CH4 is taken to be increasing if human activities are slowly depleting OH radicals that remove CH4 from the atmosphere.

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