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Methane is a greenhouse gas with a global warming potential over 100 years of 23.This means that when averaged over 100 years each kg of CH4 warms the Earth 23 times as much as the same mass of CO2.
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See Letter p.602Despite being much less abundant in the atmosphere than carbon dioxide, methane has a higher capacity to absorb heat emitted from Earth's surface, and thereby contributes substantially to global warming has spurred an avalanche of studies on possible methane-mitigation strategies.
Rice cultivation is the largest single source of methane linked to human activity, and methane emissions from rice paddies are expected to increase with a rising global demand for food.
The Earth's crust contains huge amounts of methane.
Large amounts of methane are emitted to the atmosphere through mud volcanoes which are connected with deep geological faults or as the main constituent of biogas formed naturally by anaerobic digestion.Burning one molecule of methane in the presence of oxygen releases one molecule of CO2 (carbon dioxide) and two molecules of H2O (water).Methane's relative abundance and clean burning process makes it a very attractive fuel.Groups such as the Environmental Defense Fund that cooperate with industry to invest in technological research to better detect methane leaks say the current voluntary approach is insufficient because it does not include participation from a significant percentage of the industry.“This methane rollback shows the administration is catering to the worst actors in industry who aren't willing to lift a finger to make a reduction in their emissions,” Ben Ratner, an EDF senior director who studies methane, told the Washington Examiner.A genetically modified rice with more starch in its grains also provides fewer nutrients for methane-producing soil microbes.This dual benefit might help to meet the urgent need for globally sustainable food production.However, because it is a gas and not a liquid or solid, methane is difficult to transport from the areas that produce it to the areas that consume it.Converting methane to forms that are more easily transported, such as LNG (liquefied natural gas) and methanol, is an active area of research.Science correspondent Miles O’Brien joins us from the atmosphere above Southern California, where NASA engineers leverage state-of-the-art technology to measure methane.Released through oil and gas production, livestock emissions, and organic waste, methane is about 85 times more potent at trapping heat than carbon dioxide.