Sources and Sinks of Methane

  • D. Bachelet
  • H. U. Neue
Conference paper
Part of the NATO ASI Series book series (volume 13)


Methane (CH4) concentrations in the atmosphere have increased from about 0.75 to 1.7 ppmv since preindustrial times (Steele et al., 1987; Khalil and Rasmussen, 1990). The current annual rate of increase of about 0.8% year−1 is attributed to increases in industrial and agricultural emissions since some key natural sources (e.g., wetlands and marshes) have been reduced due to development pressure, decreasing their area in various parts of the world (see, for example, Lelieveld et al., 1993). We have tried, in this chapter, to concisely summarize the discussions that took place at the NATO-ARW and to quantify the size of the global “Methane Sources and Sinks” that may contribute to the atmospheric increase. Several “specialty” groups emerged during the workshop, and it is their conclusions that are presented here. Each paragraph is also the focus of an individual chapter and usually of several papers that have appeared in Chemosphere Vol. 26(1–4). We have tried to cite these documents in the relevant sections, and we refer the reader to these sources for detailed explanations of each source and sink.


Emission Factor Methane Emission Methane Flux Atmospheric Methane Methane Source 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Augenstein, D., J. Pacey. 1991. US landfill methane emissions estimates. Poster presentation, NATO-ARW, Timberline Lodge, OR, October 5–11, 1991.Google Scholar
  2. Aselmann, I., P.J. Crutzen. 1989. Global distribution of natural freshwater wetlands and rice paddies, their net primary productivity, seasonality and possible methane emissions. J. Atmos. Chem., 8: 307–358.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Bartlett, K.B., R.C. Harriss. 1993. Review and assessment of methane emissions from wetlands. Chemosphere, 26 (1–4): 261–320.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Beck, L. 1993. A global methane emissions program for landfills, coal mines and natural gas systems. Chemosphere, 26 (1–4): 447–452.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Bingemer, H.G., P.J. Crutzen. 1987. The production of methane from solid wastes. J. Geophys. Res., 92: 2, 181–2, 187.Google Scholar
  6. Bogner, J., K. Spokas. 1993. Landfill CH4: Rates, fates, and role in global carbon cycle. Chemosphere, 26 (1–4): 369–386.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Bonsang, B., C. Boissard, U. Bassler, G. Lambert. 1991. Methane production by savanna fires. Poster presentation, NATO-ARW, Timberline Lodge, OR, October 5–11, 1991.Google Scholar
  8. Boyer, C.M., J.R. Kelafant, V.A. Kuuskraa, K.C. Manger, D. Kruger. 1990. Methane emissions from coal mining: Issues and opportunities for reduction. U.S. EPA, Office of Air and Radiation, Washington D.C., EPA 400/9–90/008, 3 pp.Google Scholar
  9. Cicerone, R.J., R.S. Oremland. 1988. Biogeochemical aspects of atmospheric methane. Global Biogeochem. CycL, 2: 299–327.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Crutzen, P.J. 1991. Methane’s sinks and sources. Nature, 350: 380–381.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Gibbs, M.J., L. Lewis, J.S. Hoffman. 1989. Reducing methane emissions from livestock: Opportunities and issues. U.S. EPA, Office of Air and Radiation, Washington DC, EPA 400/1–89/002, 50 pp.Google Scholar
  12. Khalil, M.A.K., R.A. Rasmussen. 1983. Sources, sinks, and seasonal cycles of atmospheric methane. J. Geophys. Res., 83: 5, 131–144.Google Scholar
  13. Khalil, M.A.K., R.A. Rasmussen. 1990. Atmospheric methane: Recent global trends. Environ. Sci. Tech., 24: 549–553.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Kirchgessner, D.A., S.D. Piccot, J.D. Winkler. 1993. Estimate of global methane emissions from coal mines. Chemosphere, 26 (1–4): 453–472.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Lacroix, A.V. 1993. Unaccounted-for sources of fossil and isotopically-enriched methane and their contribution to the emissions inventory: A review and synthesis. Chemosphere, 26 (1–4): 507–558.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Lamontagne, R.A., J.W. Swinnerton, V.J. Linnenbon, W.D. Smith. 1973. Methane concentrations in various marine environments. J. Geophys. Res., 78: 5, 317–324.Google Scholar
  17. Lelieveld, J., P.J. Crutzen, C. Brühl. 1993. Climate effects of atmospheric methane. Chemosphere, 26 (1–4): 739–768.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Lodman, D.W., M.E. Branine, B.R. Carmean, P. Zimmerman, G.M. Ward, D.E. Johnson. 1993. Estimates of methane emissions from manure of U.S. cattle. Chemosphere, 26 (1–4): 189–200.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Matthews, E., I. Fung. 1987. Methane emission from natural wetlands: Global distribution, area, and environmental characteristics of sources. Global Biogeochem. CycL, 1: 61–86.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Mitchell, C. 1993. Methane emissions from the coal and natural gas industries in the UK. Chemosphere, 26 (1–4): 441–446.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Mitchell, C., J. Sweet, T. Jackson. 1990. A study of leakage from the UK natural gas distribution system. Energy Policy (November 1990): 809–818.Google Scholar
  22. Neue, H.U., P. Becker-Heidmann, H.W. Scharpenseel. 1990. Organic matter dynamics, soil properties and cultural practices in rice lands and their relationship to methane production. In: Soils and the Greenhouse Effect ( A.F. Bouwman, ed.), John Wiley, New York, pp 457–466.Google Scholar
  23. Nozhevnikova, A.N., V.S. Lebedev, A.B. Lifshitz, G.A. Zavarzin. 1993. Emission of methane from landfills into atmosphere in the USSR. Chemosphere, 26 (1–4): 401–418.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Orlich, J. 1990. Methane emissions from landfill sites and wastewater lagoons. In: Proceedings International Workshop on Methane Emissions from Natural Gas Systems, Coal Mining and Waste Management Systems, April 9–13, 1990. U.S. EPA, Washington DC, pp 465–472.Google Scholar
  25. Peer, R.L., S.A. Thorneloe, D.L. Epperson. 1993. A comparison of methods for estimating global methane emissions from landfills. Chemosphere, 26 (14): 387–400.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Richards, K. 1989. Landfill gas: Working with Gaia. Biodeterioration Abstracts 3: 525–539.Google Scholar
  27. Steele, L.P., P.J. Fraser, R.A. Rasmussen, M.A.K. Khalil, T.D. Conway, A.J. Crawford, R.H. Gammon, K.A. Masarie, K.W. Thoning. 1987. The global distribution of methane in the troposphere. J. Atmos. Chem., 5: 125–171.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Williams, D.J. 1993. Methane emissions from manure of free-range dairy cows. Chemosphere, 26 (1–4): 179–188.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Zimmerman, P.R., J.P. Greenberg, S.O. Wandiga, P.J. Crutzen. 1982. Termites: a potentially large source of atmospheric methane, carbon dioxide and molecular hydrogen. Science, 218: 563–565.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 1993

Authors and Affiliations

  • D. Bachelet
    • 1
  • H. U. Neue
    • 2
  1. 1.US EPA Environmental Research LaboratoryManTech Environmental Technology, Inc.CorvallisUSA
  2. 2.International Rice Research InstituteManilaPhilippines

Personalised recommendations