2010–2016 methane trends over Canada, the United States, and Mexico observed by the GOSAT satellite: contributions from different source sectors


North America, Central America and the Caribbean
Objective 1


We use 7 years (2010–2016) of methane column observations from the Greenhouse Gases Observing Satellite (GOSAT) to examine trends in atmospheric methane concentrations over North America and infer trends in emissions. Local methane enhancements above background are diagnosed in the GOSAT data on a 0.5° × 0.5° grid by estimating the local background as the low (10th–25th) percentiles of the deseasonalized frequency distributions of the data for individual years. Trends in methane enhancements on the 0.5° × 0.5° grid are then aggregated nationally and for individual source sectors, using information from state-of-science bottom-up inventories. We find that US methane emissions increased by 2.5±1.4  %a−1 (mean±1 standard deviation) over the 7-year period, with contributions from both oil–gas systems (possibly unconventional oil–gas production) and from livestock in the Midwest (possibly swine manure management). Mexican emissions show a decrease that can be attributed to a decreasing cattle population. Canadian emissions show year-to-year variability driven by wetland emissions and correlated with wetland areal extent. The US emission trends inferred from the GOSAT data account for about 20% of the observed increase in global methane over the 2010–2016 period.