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Methane and Water

Gases trapping solar heat in the atmosphere are called green house gases. Methane (CH4) is the second most prevalent greenhouse gas emitted in the United States from human activities (the first one being carbon dioxide). In 2014, methane accounted for about 11 percent of all U.S. greenhouse gas emissions from human activities. Although methane is much more potent green house gas than carbon dioxide (25 times greater impact on climate change than CO2 over 100 years), its longevity in the atmosphere is only about 12 years.

Methane is emitted by natural sources such as wetlands, lakes and the oceans, as well as human activities such as leakage from natural gas systems, landfills and the raising of livestock.

Methane sourcesGlobal methane sources - natural and anthropogenic, adopted from NASA


Water body methane emissions play an important role in the global methane emission budget, but there are large uncertainities in methane fluxes estimates from natural and anthropogenic systems. Researchers in Ohio work on evaluating methane fluxes from both of these sources.

  • Prof. Bohrer projects funded by NSF and Ohio WRC investigate methane fluxes from natural and anthropogenic sources in shale gas development areas.
  • Prof. Buffam and Hamilton project funded by Ohio WRC 104(b) program evaluate how are Ohio reservoirs methane emissions influenced by nutrient enrichement. 

Fluxes of methaneGlobal Carbon Project 2013; Figure based on Kirschke et al. 2013, Nature Geoscience