Data

Methane concentration in the atmosphere

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What you should know about this indicator

Based on ice core studies of historical concentration of greenhouse gases, and recent air monitoring sites around the world.

This indicator describes how the levels of major greenhouse gases (GHGs) in the atmosphere have changed over geological time and in recent years. Changes in atmospheric GHGs, in part caused by human activities, affect the amount of energy held in the Earth-atmosphere system and thus affect the Earth's climate. This indicator is highly relevant to climate change because greenhouse gases from human activities are the primary driver of observed climate change since the mid-20th century (IPCC, 2021).

Methane concentration in the atmosphere
Measured in parts per million.
Source
NOAA Global Monitoring Laboratory - Trends in Atmospheric Methane (2024); EPA based on various sources (2022) – with major processing by Our World in Data
Last updated
May 20, 2024
Next expected update
July 2024
Date range
797446 BCE – 2023 CE
Unit
parts per billion volume

Sources and processing

This data is based on the following sources

The Carbon Cycle Greenhouse Gases (CCGG) research area operates the Global Greenhouse Gas Reference Network, measuring the atmospheric distribution and trends of the three main long-term drivers of climate change, carbon dioxide (CO2), methane (CH4), and nitrous oxide (N2O), as well as carbon monoxide (CO) which is an important indicator of air pollution.

Retrieved on
May 20, 2024
Citation
This is the citation of the original data obtained from the source, prior to any processing or adaptation by Our World in Data. To cite data downloaded from this page, please use the suggested citation given in Reuse This Work below.
National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Global Monitoring Laboratory, Boulder, Colorado, USA (https://gml.noaa.gov) - Trends in Atmospheric Methane.
Lan, X., K.W. Thoning, and E.J. Dlugokencky: Trends in globally-averaged CH4, N2O, and SF6 determined from NOAA Global Monitoring Laboratory measurements. https://doi.org/10.15138/P8XG-AA10

This indicator describes how the levels of major greenhouse gases in the atmosphere have changed over time.

The data contains concentrations of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere from hundreds of thousands of years ago through 2021, measured in parts per million (ppm). The data come from a variety of historical ice core studies and recent air monitoring sites around the world.

Retrieved on
April 17, 2024
Citation
This is the citation of the original data obtained from the source, prior to any processing or adaptation by Our World in Data. To cite data downloaded from this page, please use the suggested citation given in Reuse This Work below.
United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) - Climate Change Indicators: Atmospheric Concentrations of Greenhouse Gases (2022)
Global atmospheric concentration measurements for carbon dioxide, methane, and nitrous oxide come from a variety of monitoring programs and studies published in peer-reviewed literature.
More details can be found on their technical documentation.

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All data and visualizations on Our World in Data rely on data sourced from one or several original data providers. Preparing this original data involves several processing steps. Depending on the data, this can include standardizing country names and world region definitions, converting units, calculating derived indicators such as per capita measures, as well as adding or adapting metadata such as the name or the description given to an indicator.

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  • All data produced by third-party providers and made available by Our World in Data are subject to the license terms from the original providers. Our work would not be possible without the data providers we rely on, so we ask you to always cite them appropriately (see below). This is crucial to allow data providers to continue doing their work, enhancing, maintaining and updating valuable data.
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Citations

How to cite this page

To cite this page overall, including any descriptions, FAQs or explanations of the data authored by Our World in Data, please use the following citation:

“Data Page: Methane concentration in the atmosphere”, part of the following publication: Hannah Ritchie, Pablo Rosado and Veronika Samborska (2024) - “Climate Change”. Data adapted from NOAA Global Monitoring Laboratory, United States Environmental Protection Agency. Retrieved from https://ourworldindata.org/grapher/long-run-methane-concentration [online resource]
How to cite this data

In-line citationIf you have limited space (e.g. in data visualizations), you can use this abbreviated in-line citation:

NOAA Global Monitoring Laboratory - Trends in Atmospheric Methane (2024); EPA based on various sources (2022) – with major processing by Our World in Data

Full citation

NOAA Global Monitoring Laboratory - Trends in Atmospheric Methane (2024); EPA based on various sources (2022) – with major processing by Our World in Data. “Methane concentration in the atmosphere” [dataset]. NOAA Global Monitoring Laboratory, “Trends in Atmospheric Methane”; United States Environmental Protection Agency, “Climate Change Indicators: Atmospheric Concentrations of Greenhouse Gases” [original data]. Retrieved June 13, 2024 from https://ourworldindata.org/grapher/long-run-methane-concentration