Reference : Heavy methane to explain the unexplained recent methane growth ?
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Heavy methane to explain the unexplained recent methane growth ?
Bader, Whitney mailto [Université de Liège - ULiège > > > Form. doct. sc. (sc. spatiales - Bologne)]
Strong, Kim []
Walker, Kaley []
2016 Connaught Summer Institute in Arctic Science: Atmosphere, Cryosphere, and Climate
18-22 Juillet 2016
Alliston, Ontario
[en] methane ; atmosphere
[en] Methane (CH4) is the second most important greenhouse gas emitted by human activities in the Earth’s atmosphere. Although it is roughly 200 times less abundant than carbon dioxide, it is a 28 times more potent greenhouse gas. Approximately one fifth of the changes in the Earth’s balance energy caused by human-linked greenhouse gases since the beginning of industrialization (~1750) is due to methane. Methane is emitted by both natural sources and human activities. Indeed, methane can be emitted to the atmosphere through coal mining, oil and gas exploitation, rice cultures, domestic ruminant animals, biomass burning, waste management, wetlands, termites, methane hydrates and ocean. In the atmosphere, methane is mainly destroyed by the radical hydroxyl, also called the detergent of the atmosphere, and therefore plays a major role on the oxidizing capacity of the atmosphere. Since the beginning of the industrialization, atmospheric methane concentrations have increased by 260% to reach 1824 pbb in 2013. From the 1980s until the beginning of the 1990s, atmospheric methane was significantly on the rise, then stabilized during 1999-2006 to rise again afterwards. To this day, the source or sink responsible of this latter increase remains unexplained.

Through each emission process, heavy molecules of methane (with one additional neutron either on a carbon or on one hydrogen atom) are emitted along methane (12CH4). The main heavy molecules of methane, called isotopologues (13CH4 and CH3D), are respectively ~110 and ~60 000 times less abundant than methane. Despite their small abundances, they give crucial information on the concentration of methane in the atmosphere and its evolution. Indeed, both isotopologues are emitted with specific emission ratio depending on the emission sources. Determining isotopic ratio of atmospheric methane is therefore a unique tracer of its budget.

While the non-monotonous trend of methane is subject of an extensive number of studies, to our knowledge, no study of the isotopic ratio of methane derived from ground-based solar observations has been published to date. Measurements of heavy methane from Fourier Transform InfraRed spectra recorded with state of the art spectrometers installed at Eureka [Arctic, Canada] and Toronto [Ontario, Canada] along with analysis of observations collected by a portable instrument [Portable Atmospheric Research Interferometric Spectrometer for the Infrared, PARIS-IR], installed at Eureka will help fill this gap. Indeed, the produced time series, compared with the corresponding satellite observations (ACE-FTS) products will ease data interpretation and contribute to a global view of the question of isotopologues.
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