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Reconciling the bottom-up and top-down estimates of the methane chemical sink using multiple observations

Zhao, Y., Saunois, M., Bousquet, P., Lin, X., Hegglin, M. I. ORCID:, Canadell, J. G. ORCID:, Jackson, R. B. ORCID: and Zheng, B. ORCID: (2023) Reconciling the bottom-up and top-down estimates of the methane chemical sink using multiple observations. Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics, 23 (1). pp. 789-807. ISSN 1680-7324

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To link to this item DOI: 10.5194/acp-23-789-2023


The methane chemical sink estimated by atmospheric chemistry models (bottom-up method) is significantly larger than estimates based on methyl chloroform (MCF) inversions (top-down method). The difference is partly attributable to large uncertainties in hydroxyl radical (OH) concentrations simulated by the atmospheric chemistry models used to derive the bottom-up estimates. In this study, we propose a new approach based on OH precursor observations and a chemical box model. This approach contributes to improving the 3D distributions of tropospheric OH radicals obtained from atmospheric chemistry models and reconciling bottom-up and top-down estimates of the chemical loss of atmospheric methane. By constraining simulated OH precursors with observations, the global mean tropospheric column-averaged air-mass-weighted OH concentration ([OH]trop-M) is  molec. cm−3 (which is 2×105 molec. cm−3 lower than the original model-simulated global [OH]trop-M) and agrees with that obtained by the top-down method based on MCF inversions. With OH constrained by precursor observations, the methane chemical loss is 471–508 Tg yr−1, averaged from 2000 to 2009. The new adjusted estimate is in the range of the latest top-down estimate of the Global Carbon Project (GCP) (459–516 Tg yr−1), contrary to the bottom-up estimates that use the original model-simulated OH fields (577–612 Tg yr−1). The overestimation of global [OH]trop-M and methane chemical loss simulated by the atmospheric chemistry models is caused primarily by the models' underestimation of carbon monoxide and total ozone column, and overestimation of nitrogen dioxide. Our results highlight that constraining the model-simulated OH fields with available OH precursor observations can help improve bottom-up estimates of the global methane sink.

Item Type:Article
Divisions:Science > School of Mathematical, Physical and Computational Sciences > Department of Meteorology
ID Code:111109


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