Spatiotemporal Variability of Global Atmospheric Methane Observed from Two Decades of Satellite Hyperspectral Infrared Sounders Journal Article uri icon



  • Methane (CH4) is the second most significant contributor to climate change after carbon dioxide (CO2), accounting for approximately 20% of the contributions from all the well-mixed greenhouse gases. Understanding the spatiotemporal distributions, and the relevant long-term trends are crucial to identifying the sources, sinks, and impacts on climate. Hyperspectral thermal infrared (TIR) sounders, including the Atmospheric Infrared Sounder (AIRS), the Cross-track Infrared Sounder (CrIS), and the Infrared Atmospheric Sounding Interferometer (IASI), have been used to measure global CH4 concentrations since 2002. This study analyzed nearly twenty years of data from AIRS and CrIS and confirmed a significant increase in CH4 concentrations in the mid-upper troposphere (around 400 hPa) from 2003 to 2020, with a total increase of approximately 85 ppb, representing a +4.8% increase in 18 years. The rate of increase was derived using global satellite TIR measurements is consistent with in-situ measurements, indicating a steady increase starting in 2007 and became stronger in 2014. The study also compared CH4 concentrations derived from the AIRS and CrIS against ground-based measurements from NOAA Global Monitoring Laboratory (GML) and found phase shifts in the seasonal cycles in the middle to high latitudes in the northern hemisphere, which is attributed to the influence of stratospheric CH4 that varies at different latitudes. These findings provide insights into the global budget of atmospheric composition and the understanding of satellite measurement sensitivity of CH4.

publication date

  • May 11, 2023

has restriction

  • green

Date in CU Experts

  • May 17, 2023 2:41 AM

Full Author List

  • Zhou L; Warner J; R.Nalli N; Wei Z; Oh Y; Bruhwiler L; Liu X; Divakarla M; Pryor K; Kalluri S

author count

  • 11

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