Tropical Africa could be a key to solving methane mystery

Project analyses wetlands’ contribution to a spike in atmospheric concentrations of the potent greenhouse gas.

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Armed with an aeroplane loaded with sampling equipment, UK scientists have taken the most detailed measurements yet of the methane in the skies over tropical Africa. The data should help researchers to understand a mysterious spike in atmospheric concentrations of the powerful greenhouse gas, which began in 2007.

The flights started in Uganda in January and ended in early February in Zambia. Researchers sampled methane emissions emanating from papyrus swamps, burning farm fields and flatulent livestock. Early results confirm that Africa is playing a major, yet poorly documented, role in the global methane cycle, with enormous consequences for the global climate.

By: Jeff Tollefson/Nature News

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