Methane Emissions Surged in Last Decade, Study Finds

Author: Justin Worland | Published: December 12, 2016

Emissions of global warming-causing methane gas are on the rise across the globe and reaching levels unseen in at least two decades, according to a new study, indicating researchers must pay closer attention to the potent greenhouse gas as they work to combat climate change.

The new study, published in the journal Environmental Research Letters, shows that methane levels began to increase dramatically around 2007 and even more so in 2014. Atmospheric methane concentration increased by about 0.5 parts per billion annually in the early 2000s. That number had jumped 20-fold by 2014, according to the study.

Researchers largely attribute the spike to agriculture, though methane emissions that escape during energy development also play a role. The emissions mostly come from the tropics, likely due to rice patties and cattle ranches there, according to the study. Still, researchers said that precise details about what caused the spike remain unclear.