Global methane emissions from agriculture underestimated

Emissions of methane — a potent greenhouse gas, with a global warming potential 20 times that of carbon dioxide — from agriculture have been found to be larger than previously estimated, according a study recently published in the open access journal Carbon Balance and Management. By re-evaluating data on methane produced from livestock digestion and manure for 2011, researchers from the Joint Global Change Research Institute in the United States found that global livestock methane emissions for 2011 are around 11% higher than the estimates based on guidelines provided by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) in 2006. The new estimate comprises an 8.4% increase in methane from enteric fermentation (digestion) in dairy cows and other cattle, and a 36.7% increase in manure management methane compared to IPCC-based estimates. The estimates presented in this study are also 15% larger than global estimates provided by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. To find out more check out Revised methane emissions factors and spatially distributed annual carbon fluxes for global livestock.