Influence of Atmospheric Transport on Estimates of Variability in the Global Methane Burden

Sudhanshu Pandey*, Sander Houweling, Maarten Krol, Ilse Aben, Narcisa Nechita-Banda, Kirk Thoning, Thomas Röckmann, Yi Yin, Arjo Segers, Edward J. Dlugokencky

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticleAcademicpeer-review


We quantify the impact of atmospheric transport and limited marine boundary layer sampling on changes in global and regional methane burdens estimate using tracer transport model simulations with annually repeating methane emissions and sinks but varying atmospheric transport patterns. We find the 1σ error due to this transport and sampling effect on annual global methane increases to be 1.11 ppb/year and on zonal growth rates to be 3.8 ppb/year, indicating that it becomes more critical at smaller spatiotemporal scales. We also find that the trends in inter-hemispheric and inter-polar difference of methane are significantly influenced by the effect. Contrary to a negligible trend in the inter-hemispheric difference of measurements, we find, after adjusting for the transport and sampling, a trend of 0.37 ± 0.06 ppb/year. This is consistent with the emission trend from a 3-D inversion of the measurements, suggesting a faster increase in emissions in the Northern Hemisphere than in the Southern Hemisphere.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2302-2311
Number of pages10
JournalGeophysical Research Letters
Issue number4
Early online date29 Jan 2019
Publication statusPublished - 28 Feb 2019


We acknowledge the support by the Netherlands Organization for Scientific Research (NWO) and Copernicus Atmosphere Monitoring Service (“CAMS_73 Greenhouse gases fluxes”). The TM5 model computations were carried out on the Dutch national supercomputer Cartesius maintained by SURFSara ( NOAA CH4 measurements are freely available from NOAA's public ftp server (

FundersFunder number
Copernicus Atmosphere Monitoring Service
NOAA's public ftp server
Nederlandse Organisatie voor Wetenschappelijk Onderzoek


    • atmospheric burden
    • atmospheric transport
    • CH emissions
    • interhemispheric difference
    • methane
    • TM5


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