Record Amount of Methane Added to Atmosphere Last Year

Apr 8, 2022

Much methane comes out of livestock and human-generated agriculture, as well as from landfills.

Global atmospheric levels of the potent but short-lived greenhouse gas methane increased by a record amount last year, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said Thursday, worrying scientists because of the large role methane has in climate change.

The preliminary airborne level of methane jumped 17 parts per billion, hitting 1895.7 parts per billion last year. It’s the second year in a row that methane rose at a record rate, with 2020 going up 15.3 ppb over 2019, according to NOAA.

Methane levels are now way more than double pre-industrial levels of 720 parts per billion, said Lindsay Lan, an atmospheric scientist at NOAA and the University of Colorado.

Because it doesn’t last in the air long, many nations last year agreed to target methane for quick emission cuts as low-hanging fruit in the global efforts to limit future warming to 1.5 or 2 C since pre-industrial times. The world has already warmed 1.1 to 1.2 C.

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