TheBeefSite.com - news, features, articles and disease information for the beef industry

News

Estimates Reveal Global Methane Emissions from Ag Larger Than Reported

29 September 2017

GLOBAL - Global methane emissions from agriculture are larger than estimated due to the previous use of out-of-date data on carbon emissions generated by livestock, according to a new study.

The study, published in the open access journal Carbon Balance and Management, reveals that in a project sponsored by the US National Aeronautics and Space Administration's (NASA) Carbon Monitoring System research initiative, researchers from the Joint Global Change Research Institute (JGCRI) found that global livestock methane (CH4) emissions for 2011 are 11 per cent higher than the estimates based on guidelines provided by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) in 2006.

This encompasses an 8.4 per cent increase in CH4 from enteric fermentation (digestion) in dairy cows and other cattle and a 36.7 per cent increase in manure management CH4 compared to IPCC-based estimates. Revised manure management CH4 emissions estimates for 2011 in the US from this study were 71.8 per cent higher than IPPC-based estimates.

Dr Julie Wolf, US Department of Agriculture (USDA), Agricultural Research Service (ARS), senior author of the study said: "In many regions of the world, livestock numbers are changing, and breeding has resulted in larger animals with higher intakes of food. This, along with changes in livestock management, can lead to higher methane emissions. Methane is an important moderator of the Earth's atmospheric temperature. It has about four times the atmospheric warming potential of carbon dioxide.

"Direct measurements of methane emissions are not available for all sources of methane. Thus, emissions are reported as estimates based on different methods and assumptions. In this study, we created new per-animal emissions factors - that is measures of the average amount of CH4 discharged by animals into the atmosphere - and new estimates of global livestock methane emissions."

The authors re-evaluated the data used to calculate IPCC 2006 CH4 emission factors resulting from enteric fermentation in dairy cows and other cattle, and manure management from dairy cows, other cattle and swine. They show that estimating livestock CH4 emissions with the revised emissions factors, created in this study, results in larger emission estimates compared to calculations made using IPCC 2006 emission factors for most regions, although emission estimates varied considerably by region.

Dr Ghassem Asrar, Director of JG

TheCattleSite News Desk

Top image via Shutterstock



Our Sponsors

Partners


Seasonal Picks

Animal Welfare in EPS - 5m Books