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Methane Levels Dramatically Increase

Energy
Methane Levels Dramatically Increase
A gas flare from the Shell Chemical LP petroleum refinery illuminates the sky on August 21, 2019 in Norco, Louisiana. Drew Angerer / Getty Images.

Methane levels in the atmosphere experienced a dramatic rise in 2019, preliminary data released Sunday shows.


The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration found that methane levels increased by 11.54 parts per billion (ppb) in 2019 over 2018 levels, the largest increase since 2014. "Last year's jump in methane is one of the biggest we've seen over the past twenty years," Rob Jackson, professor of Earth system science at Stanford University and chair of the Global Carbon Project, told Bloomberg.

"It's too early to say why, but increases from both agriculture and natural gas use are likely. Natural gas consumption surged more than two percent last year." In the United States, the fossil fuel industry is the largest source of methane pollution, and emissions from the oil and gas sector have grown at least 40% over the last decade.

For a deeper dive:

Bloomberg, The Hill, Climate Signals

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