In our third lunchtime webinar, Professor Euan Nisbet from Royal Holloway, University of London presented on the project ‘New methodologies to remove methane from the atmosphere’.
Methane is a potent global warmer, and is the second-most important anthropogenic greenhouse gas. It has been rising rapidly since 2007. There are many different sources of methane, both natural and anthropogenic, and various forms of measurement have allowed researchers to map their geographic and seasonal distribution. Alongside the sources come a range of sinks, methane reacting with hydroxyl (OH) radicals in the troposphere and methanotropic bacteria in the soil that metabolise methane as a source of carbon and energy.
There are also a variety of methane reduction strategies, some of which are more simple to implement than others. Short term solutions include removing leaks from the gas system and covering tropical landfills with soil to increase the sink from methantropic bacteria. Whilst more medium term approaches are to decarbonise domestic heating, reduce industrial cattle farming and stop biomass burning. In the long term wide-ranging dietary reforms and a slowing in population growth would also contribute. The key is to adopt a range of these strategies in moderation in order to bring us in line with climate targets.