UCI studies find different reasons for global methane riddle
One cites less dependency on oil, the other new farming practices
Irvine, Calif. – Two new UC Irvine papers reach markedly different conclusions about why methane, a highly potent greenhouse gas, unexpectedly leveled off near the end of the 20th century. They appear today in the journal Nature.
Both note that after decades of increases due to worldwide industry and agriculture, the tapering off of the hazardous hydrocarbon in the atmosphere – which began in the 1980s – was remarkable.
“It was an amazing mystery as to why this occurred,” said earth system science professor Eric Saltzman, a co-author of one paper, which suggests that reduced use of petroleum and increased capture and commercial use of natural gas were the driving factors.
A second UCI paper found that water efficiency and heavier commercial fertilizer use in the booming Asian farming sector provided less fertile ground for soil microbes that create methane, while at the same time increasing nitrous oxide, another greenhouse gas. (EurekAlert)