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Methane removal and the proportional reductions in surface temperature and ozone

Abernethy S, FM O’Connor, CD Jones RB Jackson
Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society A
Journal Volume/Pages: 
379: 20210104

Mitigating climate change requires a diverse portfolio of technologies and approaches, including negative emissions or removal of greenhouse gases. Previous literature focuses primarily on carbon dioxide removal, but methane removal may be an important complement to future efforts. Methane removal has at least two key benefits: reducing temperature more rapidly than carbon dioxide removal and improving air quality by reducing surface ozone concentration. While some removal technologies are being developed, modelling of their impacts is limited. Here, we conduct the first simulations using a methane emissions-driven Earth System Model to quantify the climate and air quality cobenefits of methane removal, including different rates and timings of removal. We define a novel metric, the effective cumulative removal, and use it to show that each effective petagram of methane removed causes a mean global surface temperature reduction of 0.21±0.04°C and a mean global surface ozone reduction of 1.0±0.2
parts per billion. Our results demonstrate the effectiveness of methane removal in delaying warming thresholds and reducing peak temperatures, and also allow for direct comparisons between the impacts of methane and carbon dioxide removal that could guide future research and climate policy.

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