Washing Methane Away: Atmospheric Chemistry

Science Matters

The good news comes from NASA published at Science Daily Greenhouse gas ‘detergent’ recycles itself in atmosphere.  The study explains how the atmosphere functions as a methane sink, and why the process is resilient and handles whatever CH4 is emitted.  Scientists had worried that the atmospheric capacity to wash away methane might decay over time, but that fear turns out to be unfounded. Excerpts in italics with my bolds.

Summary:
A simple molecule in the atmosphere that acts as a ‘detergent’ to break down methane and other greenhouse gases has been found to recycle itself to maintain a steady global presence in the face of rising emissions, according to new research. Understanding its role in the atmosphere is critical for determining the lifetime of methane, a powerful contributor to climate change.

The hydroxyl (OH) radical, a molecule made up of one hydrogen atom, one oxygen atom with a…

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