Methane vs. CO2 Global Warming Potential
Methane and Carbon Dioxide - CH4 and CO2
105 times. Level of heat trapping potency that methane is greater than carbon
dioxide over a 20-year time frame according to NASA research. “But
[Robert Howarth, a professor of ecology and environmental biology at
Cornell University] and company took things even further, incorporating
data from Drew T. Shindell at NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space
Studies, who published a study in 2009 in the journal Science that
suggested that the interaction of methane with certain atmospheric
aerosols might well amplify the global warming potential of methane,
rendering it up to 105 times more potent than carbon dioxide in the
20-year time frame. Although the 100-year time horizon is more commonly
used by climate scientists, Mr. Howarth relies on the shorter
time-horizon, which would greatly intensify the impact of leaking
methane on climate. Combining that with the novel methane leakage
estimates at various points along the production and transmission life
cycles, he and his co-authors were able to push the climate impact, per
unit of energy, of unconventional natural gas industry well beyond that
of the perennial environmental and climate demon, coal." (Tom Zeller Jr., “Methane Losses Stir Debate on Natural Gas,” The New York Times, April 12, 2011
72 times. Methane has a global warming potential 72 times greater than carbon dioxide over a 20 year period. Compared with carbon dioxide, methane has a high global warming potential of 72 (calculated over a period of 20 years) or 25 (for a time period of 100 years). (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change - IPCC - "Climate Change 2007: The Physical Science Basis - Summary for Policymakers," Fourth Assessment Report -FAR, Working Group 1, Chapter 2, IPCC Secretariat, Geneva, Switzerland, February 2007, p. 212)
72 times. Over a 20-year period, one pound of methane traps as much heat as at least 72 lbs. of CO2. “Methane is a far more powerful greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide, though it doesn’t last nearly as long in the atmosphere. Still, over a 20-year period, one pound of it traps as much heat as at least 72 pounds of carbon dioxide. Its potency declines, but even after a century, it is at least 25 times as powerful as carbon dioxide. When burned, natural gas emits half the carbon dioxide of coal, but methane leakage eviscerates this advantage because of its heat-trapping power.” (Anthony R. Ingraffea, “Gangplank to a Warm Future,” The New York Times, July 28, 2013)
64 times. Number of times more potent that methane is compared to carbon dioxide as a heat-trapping gas. “For the same volume, methane is 64 times more potent as a heat-trapping gas than carbon dioxide, and there is a lot of it.” Methane compared to carbon dioxide. (Ian Hoffman, Staff Writer, “Global warming could trigger methane release,” The Oakland Tribune, Oakland, California, August 29, 2006 reporting findings in T. M. Hill, J. P. Kennett, D. L. Valentine, Z. Yang, C. M. Reddy, R. K. Nelson, R. J. Behl, C. Robert, and L. Beaufort, “Climatically driven emissions of hydrocarbons from marine sediments during deglaciation,” published online before print August 30, 2006, doi: 10.1073/pnas.0601304103 and published in print Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences PNAS September 12, 2006 vol. 103 no. 37 13570-13574 pp. 13570–13574)
40 times. Methane releases are 40 times more potent in terms of warming than CO2. “As catastrophic as all this is, [Kevin Schaefer [email@example.com], a scientist at the National Snow and Ice Data Center (NSIDC) in Boulder, Colorado] acknowledges his study underestimates what is likely to happen. The model does not measure methane releases, which are 40 times as potent in terms of warming as carbon. Methane could have a big impact on temperatures in the short term, he says. ‘There would be a lot of methane emissions. We're working on estimating those right now,’ he said. The model also does not include emissions from the large region of underwater permafrost. IPS previously reported that an estimated eight million tonnes of methane emissions are bubbling to the surface from the shallow East Siberian Arctic shelf every year. If just one percent of the Arctic undersea methane (also called methane hydrates) reaches the atmosphere, it could quadruple the amount of methane currently in the atmosphere, Vladimir Romanovsky of the University of Alaska in Fairbanks previously told IPS.” (Stephen Leahy, “Permafrost Melt Soon Irreversible Without Major Fossil Fuel Cuts,” IPS, Uxbridge, Canada, February 17, 2011 reporting findings in Kevin Schaefer, Tingjun Zhang, Lori Bruhwiler, Andrew P. Barrett, Amount and timing of permafrost carbon release in response to climate warming, Tellus B, 2011; DOI: 10.1111/j.1600-0889.2011.00527.x, article first published online on February 15, 2011)
30 times. Number of times more potent methane is than CO2 in terms of heat-trapping potential. “Methane is a greenhouse gas more than 30 times more potent than carbon dioxide.” How does methane compare to carbon dioxide? (“Methane Releases From Arctic Shelf May Be Much Larger and Faster Than Anticipated,” Press Release 10-036, National Science Foundation, March 4, 2010)
25 times. Methane GWP potency compared to carbon dioxide over a 100 year period.
“Methane is a relatively potent greenhouse gas. Compared with carbon
dioxide, it has a high global warming potential of 72 (calculated over a
period of 20 years) or 25 (for a time period of 100 years).
(Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change - IPCC - "Climate Change 2007: The Physical Science Basis - Summary for Policymakers," Fourth Assessment Report, Working Group 1, Chapter 2, IPCC Secretariat, Geneva, Switzerland, February 2007, p. 212)
Methane Heat-Trapping Potential Compared to CO2
Video of Kirk R. Smith making the above PowerPoint presentation, Carbon on Steroids: The Untold Story of Methane, Climate, and Health, California Air Resources Board, Sacramento, California, November 10, 2008. How does methane compare to carbon dioxide?
Are policymakers failing to pay sufficient attention to the climate instability risks of methane?
Coal mines have traditionally vented methane into the atmosphere.
Coal mine ventilation systems are the biggest source of methane emissions, accounting for 81 billion cubic feet, or 51% of coal mine methane emissions in 2006. (2)
(1) Kirk R. Smith, PhD, Nobel
Laureate, "Carbon on Steroids, The Untold Story of Methane, Climate, and Health," PowerPoint presentation to the California Air Resources Board (CARB), Sacramento, California, November 10, 2008, Slide 18. See video of presentation.
Arctic Global Warming | Wildfires | Climate Change Cost | Kilimanjaro Melting | Heat Waves Global Warming | Energy Workforce Shortages | Water Shortages
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