Methane Definition

by Laurent Cousineau
(Montreal)

Methane (CH4) is a hydrocarbon and an important greenhouse gas.

According to the IPCC’s Fourth Assessment Report in 2007, methane has a global warming potential 25 times stronger than carbon dioxide.

In general, methane is produced from:

  • anaerobic (without oxygen) decomposition of waste in landfills
  • animal digestion
  • coal production
  • decomposition of animal wastes
  • incomplete fossil fuel combustion
  • production and distribution of natural gas and petroleum

Positive Feedback Loop

There is an important climate feedback regarding methane gas.

Notably, as temperatures rise worldwide, permafrost in both Northern Canada and Siberia will melt which will cause huge amounts of methane to be released into the atmosphere.

Since methane is a greenhouse gas, this will cause even more global warming which will further enhance the melting of permafrost.

Greenhouse Gases

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