Recent global methane trends: an investigation using hierarchical Bayesian methods

Thursday, 18 December 2014: 9:45 AM
Matthew L Rigby, Ann Stavert, Anita Ganesan and Mark F Lunt, University of Bristol, Bristol, United Kingdom
Following a decade with little growth, methane concentrations began to increase across the globe in 2007, and have continued to rise ever since. The reasons for this renewed growth are currently the subject of much debate. Here, we discuss the recent observed trends, and highlight some of the strengths and weaknesses in current “inverse” methods for quantifying fluxes using observations. In particular, we focus on the outstanding problems of accurately quantifying uncertainties in inverse frameworks. We examine to what extent the recent methane changes can be explained by the current generation of flux models and inventories. We examine the major modes of variability in wetland models along with the Global Fire Emissions Database (GFED) and the Emissions Database for Global Atmospheric Research (EDGAR). Using the Model for Ozone and Related Tracers (MOZART), we determine whether the spatial and temporal atmospheric trends predicted using these emissions can be brought into consistency with in situ atmospheric observations. We use a novel hierarchical Bayesian methodology in which scaling factors applied to the principal components of the flux fields are estimated simultaneously with the uncertainties associated with the a priori fluxes and with model representations of the observations. Using this method, we examine the predictive power of methane flux models for explaining recent fluctuations.