Effect of desert dust on the amount of methane in the atmosphere

about the episode

Methane is a greenhouse gas that mainly contributes to climate change. It is responsible for more than a third of global warming. The amount of methane in the atmosphere continues to increase rapidly, with the largest increases to date recorded in 2020 and 2021. Most of this methane increase is due to us.

However, scientists believe that methane from biological sources, including wetlands and agriculture, may have a much greater influence on the rapid growth of emissions than has long been thought.

Based on measurements taken over the North Atlantic Ocean, the researchers believe that dust particles from North Africa along with seawater droplets contributed to break up the methane gas released into the atmosphere.

This decomposition may not be very large on a global scale, but it does mean that the molecules used to determine the source of methane emissions are present in different amounts. This may have given a distorted picture for a long time. The researchers say that the amount of methane from nature has been underestimated, which means that the methane increase from nature may be much faster than previously thought.

In any case, it is very important to further investigate this mechanism, also at other sites, so that it can be included in climate models.

The researchers are now busy collecting more data. They receive help from the crew of various ships, among others, who collect bottles of air for them when they sail through a cloud of desert dust. Samples are being taken at various locations on Earth as well.

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Read more about research here: Desert dust can enhance methane removal. You can read more about desert dust here: Welcome to the dustiest web page of NIOZ!

Winton Frazier

 "Amateur web lover. Incurable travel nerd. Beer evangelist. Thinker. Internet expert. Explorer. Gamer."

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