EGU24-2492, updated on 08 Mar 2024
EGU General Assembly 2024
© Author(s) 2024. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Future CH4 budgets as modelled by a fully coupled Earth system model using prescribed GHG concentrations vs. interactive CH4 sources and sinks

Ulas Im1, Kostas Tsigaridis2,3, Susanne Bauer2,3, Sabine Eckhardt4, Drew Shindell5, Lise Lotte Sørensen1, and Simon Wilson6
Ulas Im et al.
  • 1Aarhus University, Department of Environmental Science, Roskilde, Denmark (
  • 2Center for Climate Systems Research, Columbia University, New York, NY, USA
  • 3NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies, New York, NY, USA
  • 4Norwegian Institute for Air Research, Instituttveien 18, 2007 Kjeller, Norway
  • 5Nicholas School of the Environment, Duke University, Durham, NC, USA
  • 6Arctic Monitoring and Assessment Programme (AMAP), PO Box 8100 Dep Oslo Norway

We have used the NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies (GISS) Earth system model GISS-E2.1 to study the future budgets and trends of global and regional CH4 under different emission scenarios. GISS-E2.1 is one of the few ESMs that can be driven by anthropogenic CH4 emissions, as well as interactive natural sources such as wetlands, and can simulate the tropospheric CH4 chemistry. In frame of the recent short-lived climate forcers (SLCFs) assessment by the Arctic Monitoring and Assessment Programme (AMAP), we used the GISS-E2.1 model with prescribed long-lived greenhouse gas (GHG) concentrations. In the present study, we have supplemented these simulations using the interactive CH4 sources and sinks in order to quantify the model performance and the sensitivity to CH4 sources and sinks. We have used the Current Legislation (CLE) and the Maximum Feasible Reduction (MFR) emission scenarios from the Eclipse V6b emission database to simulate the future chemical composition and climate impacts from 2015 to 2050. We have also simulated 1995-2014 in order to evaluate the model performance following the AMAP-SLCF protocol.

The prescribed GHG version underestimates the Global Atmospheric Watch (GAW) surface CH4 observations during the period between 1995 and 2023 by 1% [-8.4%-2.0%], with a correlation (r) of 0.71 [-0.41 0.99]. The largest underestimations are over the continental emission regions such as North America, Europe, and Asia, while biases are smallest over oceans. On the other hand, the simulation with interactive sources and sinks underestimates the GAW observations more than the prescribed simulation, by 18.5% [-25% -10.4%], with a lower r of 0.36 [-0.82 0.93]. Opposite to the prescribed simulation, the biases are largest over oceans and smaller over the continents, however they are still larger over land than the prescribed simulation. The interactive simulation, with large sources virtually over land and strong sink over oceans, has a land/ocean ratio larger than 1 while the prescribed simulation has this ratio equal to 1 as it distributes the global prescribed CH4 concentration equally in longitude over a given latitude. This clearly shows that the interactive sources and sinks should be represented in models in order to realistically simulate the chemical composition and the oxidative capacity of the atmosphere.

As expected, the MFR scenario simulates lower global surface CH4 concentrations and burdens compared to the CLE scenario, however in both cases, global surface CH4 and burden continue to increase through 2050 compared to present day.  In the CLE scenario, increases are largest over the equatorial belt, in particular over India and East China, while the MFR scenario shows increases over the whole Southern Hemisphere, however much smaller compared to CLE. Finally, the interactive simulation shows that the chemical CH4 sink increases in the CLE scenario, while it slightly decreases in the MFR, leading to a larger CH4 lifetime in the MFR scenario compared to in the CLE scenario.

How to cite: Im, U., Tsigaridis, K., Bauer, S., Eckhardt, S., Shindell, D., Sørensen, L. L., and Wilson, S.: Future CH4 budgets as modelled by a fully coupled Earth system model using prescribed GHG concentrations vs. interactive CH4 sources and sinks, EGU General Assembly 2024, Vienna, Austria, 14–19 Apr 2024, EGU24-2492,, 2024.