26 Aug 2021
26 Aug 2021
Status: a revised version of this preprint is currently under review for the journal ESSD.

Global atmospheric ethane, propane and methane trends (2006–2016)

Mengze Li, Andrea Pozzer, Jos Lelieveld, and Jonathan Williams Mengze Li et al.
  • Max Planck Institute for Chemistry, Hahn-Meitner-Weg 1, 55128 Mainz, Germany

Abstract. Methane, ethane and propane are among the most abundant hydrocarbons in the atmosphere. These compounds have many emission sources in common and are all primarily removed through OH oxidation. Their mixing ratios and long-term trends in the upper troposphere and stratosphere are rarely reported due to the paucity of measurements. In this study, we present long-term (2006–2016) global ethane, propane, and methane data from airborne observation in the Upper Troposphere - Lower Stratosphere (UTLS) region, combined with atmospheric model simulations for ethane at the same times and locations, to focus on global ethane trends. The model uses the Copernicus emission inventory CAMS-GLOB and distinguishes 12 ethane emission sectors (natural and anthropogenic): BIO (biogenic emission), BIB (biomass burning), AWB (agricultural waste burning), ENE (power generation), FEF (fugitives), IND (industrial processes), RES (residential energy use), SHP (ships), SLV (solvents), SWD (solid waste and waste water), TNR (off-road transportation), and TRO (road transportation). The results from the model simulations were compared with observational data and further optimized. The Northern Hemispheric (NH) upper tropospheric and stratospheric ethane trends were 0.33 ± 0.27 %/yr and −3.6 ± 0.3 %/yr, respectively, in 2006–2016. The global ethane emission for this decade was estimated to be 19.28 Tg/yr. Trends of methane and propane, and of the 12 model sectors provided more insights on the variation of ethane trends. FEF, RES, TRO, SWD and BIB are the top five contributing sectors to the observed ethane trends. An ethane plume for NH upper troposphere and stratosphere in 2010–2011 was identified to be due to fossil fuel related emissions, likely from oil and gas exploitation. The discrepancy between model results and observations suggests that the current ethane emission inventories must be improved and higher temporal-spatial resolution data of ethane are needed. This dataset is of value to future global ethane budget estimates and the optimization of current ethane inventories. The data are public accessible at (Li et al., 2021b).

Mengze Li et al.

Status: final response (author comments only)

Comment types: AC – author | RC – referee | CC – community | EC – editor | CEC – chief editor | : Report abuse
  • RC1: 'Comment on essd-2021-246', Anonymous Referee #1, 28 Oct 2021
  • RC2: 'Comment on essd-2021-246', Anonymous Referee #2, 29 Oct 2021
  • RC3: 'Comment on essd-2021-246', Anonymous Referee #3, 03 Feb 2022

Mengze Li et al.

Data sets

Global atmospheric ethane, propane and methane trends (2006-2016) Mengze Li, Andrea Pozzer, Jos Lelieveld, and Jonathan Williams

Mengze Li et al.


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Short summary
We present a global airborne measurement dataset of atmospheric ethane, propane and methane and temporal trends for the time period 2006-2016 in the UTLS. The Copernicus CAMS-GLOB ethane emission inventory coupled with atmospheric model EMAC was optimized by the observational data with 12 ethane sectoral emission sources distinguished. The global ethane emission budget is estimated to be 19.28 Tg/yr for 2006–2016.