Emissions of the powerful greenhouse gas methane have surged in the past decade, threatening to thwart global attempts to combat climate change.
Scientists have been surprised by the surge, which began just over 10 years ago in 2007 and then was boosted even further in 2014 and 2015. Concentrations of methane in the atmosphere over those two years alone rose by more than 20 parts per billion, bringing the total to 1,830ppb.
This is a cause for alarm among global warming scientists because emissions of the gas warm the planet by more than 20 times as much as similar volumes of carbon dioxide.
In the meantime, emissions of carbon dioxide – the main component of manmade greenhouse gases in the atmosphere – have been levelling off. The new research, published in the peer-review journal Environmental Research Letters, suggests that the world’s attempts to control greenhouse gases have failed to take account of the startling rises in methane.