Page last updated at 19:51 GMT, Thursday, 14 January 2010

Global warming 'speeds' up gas emissions

A "Cool Globe" part of an exhibition about combating global warming and climate change in Copenhagen
Rising temperatures are not just a sign of climate change, a study suggests

Rising temperatures are not just a sign of climate change but are also a cause of it, a new study has suggested.

Higher temperatures on the surface of the earth are fuelling a further increase in emissions of methane, Edinburgh University experts found.

Methane is a greenhouse gas which is more potent than carbon dioxide.

The study indicated warmer temperatures in regions which were at higher latitudes increased methane - exacerbating global warming.

Scientists studying atmospheric levels of methane from the world's largest source of the gas, wetlands such as paddy fields, marshes and bogs, found that emissions were increasing in line with rising temperatures.

Researchers used satellite measurements of the atmospheric concentration of methane as well as data relating to surface temperature changes and variations in surface water to work out the levels of wetland emissions of methane from different regions.

These findings highlight the compound effect of increasing global warming - higher temperatures lead to faster warming
Professor Paul Palmer
Edinburgh University

The results showed that output from wetlands increased 7% between 2003 and 2007.

The findings also showed which regional wetland emissions were most sensitive to changes in flooding and extreme temperatures, which could help scientists predict future climate change.

Professor Paul Palmer of Edinburgh University's school of geosciences, who supervised the study, said: "These findings highlight the compound effect of increasing global warming - higher temperatures lead to faster warming.

"Our study reinforces the idea that satellites can pinpoint changes in the amount of greenhouse gases emitted from a particular place on earth.

"This opens the door to quantifying greenhouse gas emissions made from a variety of natural and man-made sources."

The study was funded by the Natural Environment Research Council and was carried out in collaboration with the Netherlands Institute for Space research. Data was supplied by Nasa and the European Space Agency.

The University of Edinburgh PhD study is published in Science.



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