Atmospheric Radiation Measurement Program facilities newsletter, July 2001.

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Global Warming and Methane--Global warming, an increase in Earth's near-surface temperature, is believed to result from the buildup of what scientists refer to as ''greenhouse gases.'' These gases include water vapor, carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide, ozone, perfluorocarbons, hydrofluoro-carbons, and sulfur hexafluoride. Greenhouse gases can absorb outgoing infrared (heat) radiation and re-emit it back to Earth, warming the surface. Thus, these gases act like the glass of a greenhouse enclosure, trapping infrared radiation inside and warming the space. One of the more important greenhouse gases is the naturally occurring hydrocarbon methane. Methane, a primary component of natural gas, is the ... continued below

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Holdridge, D. J. July 23, 2001.

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Global Warming and Methane--Global warming, an increase in Earth's near-surface temperature, is believed to result from the buildup of what scientists refer to as ''greenhouse gases.'' These gases include water vapor, carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide, ozone, perfluorocarbons, hydrofluoro-carbons, and sulfur hexafluoride. Greenhouse gases can absorb outgoing infrared (heat) radiation and re-emit it back to Earth, warming the surface. Thus, these gases act like the glass of a greenhouse enclosure, trapping infrared radiation inside and warming the space. One of the more important greenhouse gases is the naturally occurring hydrocarbon methane. Methane, a primary component of natural gas, is the second most important contributor to the greenhouse effect (after carbon dioxide). Natural sources of methane include wetlands, fossil sources, termites, oceans, fresh-waters, and non-wetland soils. Methane is also produced by human-related (or anthropogenic) activities such as fossil fuel production, coal mining, rice cultivation, biomass burning, water treatment facilities, waste management operations and landfills, and domesticated livestock operations (Figure 1). These anthropogenic activities account for approximately 70% of the methane emissions to the atmosphere. Methane is removed naturally from the atmosphere in three ways. These methods, commonly referred to as sinks, are oxidation by chemical reaction with tropospheric hydroxyl ion, oxidation within the stratosphere, and microbial uptake by soils. In spite of their important role in removing excess methane from the atmosphere, the sinks cannot keep up with global methane production. Methane concentrations in the atmosphere have increased by 145% since 1800. Increases in atmospheric methane roughly parallel world population growth, pointing to anthropogenic sources as the cause (Figure 2). Increases in the methane concentration reduce Earth's natural cooling efficiency by trapping more of the outgoing terrestrial infrared radiation, increasing the near-surface temperature.

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  • Other Information: PBD: 23 Jul 2001

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  • Report No.: ANL/ER/NL-01-07
  • Grant Number: W-31-109-ENG-38
  • DOI: 10.2172/797942 | External Link
  • Office of Scientific & Technical Information Report Number: 797942
  • Archival Resource Key: ark:/67531/metadc743292

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  • July 23, 2001

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  • Oct. 19, 2015, 7:39 p.m.

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  • March 24, 2016, 5:38 p.m.

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Holdridge, D. J. Atmospheric Radiation Measurement Program facilities newsletter, July 2001., report, July 23, 2001; Illinois. (digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc743292/: accessed September 26, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, digital.library.unt.edu; crediting UNT Libraries Government Documents Department.