Articles | Volume 9, issue 2
Earth Syst. Sci. Data, 9, 639–656, 2017
Earth Syst. Sci. Data, 9, 639–656, 2017

Review article 31 Aug 2017

Review article | 31 Aug 2017

Global Inventory of Gas Geochemistry Data from Fossil Fuel, Microbial and Burning Sources, version 2017

Owen A. Sherwood1,2, Stefan Schwietzke3,4, Victoria A. Arling4, and Giuseppe Etiope5,6 Owen A. Sherwood et al.
  • 1Institute of Arctic and Alpine Research, University of Colorado, Boulder, Colorado, 80303, USA
  • 2Department of Earth Sciences, Dalhousie University, Halifax, Nova Scotia, B3H 4R2, Canada
  • 3Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences, University of Colorado, Boulder, Colorado, 80303, USA
  • 4NOAA Earth System Research Laboratory, Global Monitoring Division, Boulder, Colorado, 80305, USA
  • 5Istituto Nazionale di Geofisica e Vulcanologia, Rome, 00143, Italy
  • 6Faculty of Environmental Science and Engineering, Babes-Bolyai University, Cluj-Napoca, 400294, Romania

Abstract. The concentration of atmospheric methane (CH4) has more than doubled over the industrial era. To help constrain global and regional CH4 budgets, inverse (top-down) models incorporate data on the concentration and stable carbon (δ13C) and hydrogen (δ2H) isotopic ratios of atmospheric CH4. These models depend on accurate δ13C and δ2H end-member source signatures for each of the main emissions categories. Compared with meticulous measurement and calibration of isotopic CH4 in the atmosphere, there has been relatively less effort to characterize globally representative isotopic source signatures, particularly for fossil fuel sources. Most global CH4 budget models have so far relied on outdated source signature values derived from globally nonrepresentative data. To correct this deficiency, we present a comprehensive, globally representative end-member database of the δ13C and δ2H of CH4 from fossil fuel (conventional natural gas, shale gas, and coal), modern microbial (wetlands, rice paddies, ruminants, termites, and landfills and/or waste) and biomass burning sources. Gas molecular compositional data for fossil fuel categories are also included with the database. The database comprises 10 706 samples (8734 fossil fuel, 1972 non-fossil) from 190 published references. Mean (unweighted) δ13C signatures for fossil fuel CH4 are significantly lighter than values commonly used in CH4 budget models, thus highlighting potential underestimation of fossil fuel CH4 emissions in previous CH4 budget models. This living database will be updated every 2–3 years to provide the atmospheric modeling community with the most complete CH4 source signature data possible. Database digital object identifier (DOI):

Short summary
Multiple natural and anthropogenic emissions sources contribute to the global atmospheric methane budget. Methane emissions are constrained, in part, by inverse (top-down) models that incorporate data on the concentration and stable carbon and hydrogen isotopic ratios of methane from different sources. To aid in these modeling efforts, we present a geochemical database comprising over 10 000 discrete samples from fossil and non-fossil fuel sources of methane.