Journal article Open Access

Long-term decline of global atmospheric ethane concentrations and implications for methane

Simpson, Isobel J.; Sulbaek Andersen, Mads P.; Meinardi, Simone; Bruhwiler, Lori; Blake, Nicola J.; Helmig, Detlev; Rowland, F. Sherwood; Blake, Donald R.


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{
  "DOI": "10.1038/nature11342", 
  "author": [
    {
      "family": "Simpson, Isobel J."
    }, 
    {
      "family": "Sulbaek Andersen, Mads P."
    }, 
    {
      "family": "Meinardi, Simone"
    }, 
    {
      "family": "Bruhwiler, Lori"
    }, 
    {
      "family": "Blake, Nicola J."
    }, 
    {
      "family": "Helmig, Detlev"
    }, 
    {
      "family": "Rowland, F. Sherwood"
    }, 
    {
      "family": "Blake, Donald R."
    }
  ], 
  "issued": {
    "date-parts": [
      [
        2012, 
        8, 
        22
      ]
    ]
  }, 
  "abstract": "After methane, ethane is the most abundant hydrocarbon in the\nremote atmosphere. It is a precursor to tropospheric ozone and it\ninfluences the atmosphere's oxidative capacity through its reaction\nwith the hydroxyl radical, ethane's primary atmospheric sink (1\u20133).\nHere we present the longest continuous record of global atmospheric\nethane levels. We show that global ethane emission rates\ndecreased from 14.3 to 11.3 teragrams per year, or by 21 per cent,\nfrom 1984 to 2010. We attribute this to decreasing fugitive emissions\nfrom ethane's fossil fuel source\u2014most probably decreased\nventing and flaring of natural gas in oil fields\u2014rather than a\ndecline in its other major sources, biofuel use and biomass burning.\nEthane's major emission sources are shared with methane, and\nrecent studies have disagreed on whether reduced fossil fuel or\nmicrobial emissions have caused methane's atmospheric growth\nrate to slow (4,5). Our findings suggest that reduced fugitive fossil fuel\nemissions account for at least 10\u201321 teragrams per year (30\u201370 per\ncent) of the decrease in methane's global emissions, significantly\ncontributing to methane's slowing atmospheric growth rate since\nthe mid-1980s.", 
  "title": "Long-term decline of global atmospheric ethane concentrations and implications for methane", 
  "type": "article-journal", 
  "id": "898122"
}
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