Variations of tropospheric methane over Japan during 1988-2010

Taku Umezawa, Daisuke Goto, Shuji Aoki, Kentaro Ishijima, Prabir K. Patra, Satoshi Sugawara, Shinji Morimoto, Takakiyo Nakazawa

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13 Citations (Scopus)


We present observations of CH4 concentrations from the lower to upper troposphere (LT and UT) over Japan during 1988-2010 based on aircraft measurements from the Tohoku University (TU). The analysis is aided by simulation results using an atmospheric chemistry transport model (i.e. ACTM). Tropospheric CH4 over Japan shows interannual and seasonal variations that are dependent on altitudes, primarily reflecting differences in air mass origins at different altitudes. The long-term trend and interannual variation of CH4 in the LT are consistent with previous reports of measurements at surface baseline stations in the northern hemisphere. However, those in the UT show slightly different features from those in the LT. In the UT, CH4 concentrations show a seasonal maximum in August due to efficient transport of air masses influenced by continental CH4 sources, while LT CH4 reaches its seasonal minimum during summer due to enhanced chemical loss. Vertical profiles of the CH4 concentrations also vary with season, reflecting the seasonal cycles at the respective altitudes. In summer, transport of CH4-rich air from Asian regions elevates UT CH4 levels, forming a uniform vertical profile above the mid-troposphere. On the other hand, CH4 decreases nearly monotonically with altitude in winter-spring. The ACTM simulations with different emission scenarios reproduce general features of the tropospheric CH4 variations over Japan. Tagged tracer simulations using the ACTM indicate substantial contributions of CH4 sources in South Asia and East Asia to the summertime high CH4 values observed in the UT. This suggests that our observations over Japan are highly sensitive to CH4 emission signals particularly from Asia.

Original languageEnglish
Article number23837
JournalTellus, Series B: Chemical and Physical Meteorology
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2014


  • Aircraft observation
  • Asian outflow
  • Atmospheric chemistry transport model
  • Long-term variation
  • Methane
  • Seasonality
  • Vertical profile


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