Atmospheric methane at Mauna Loa and Barrow observatories: Presentation and analysis of in situ measurements


  • Edward J. Dlugokencky,

  • L. Paul Steele,

  • Patricia M. Lang,

  • Kenneth A. Masarie


In situ methane (CH4) measurement techniques and data from the NOAA Climate Monitoring and Diagnostics Laboratory observatories at Mauna Loa, Hawaii, and Barrow, Alaska, are presented. For Mauna Loa, the data span the time period April 1987 to April 1994. At Barrow the measurements cover the period January 1986 to January 1994. Sixty air samples per day were measured with a fully automated gas chromatograph using flame ionization detection. Details of the experimental methods and procedures are given. Data are presented and assessed over various timescales. The average peak to peak seasonal cycle amplitudes obtained from four harmonics fitted to the detrended data were 25.1 ppb at Mauna Loa and 47.2 ppb at Barrow. When the seasonal cycle amplitude during each calendar year was determined as the difference between the maximum and minimum value from a smooth curve fitted to the data, the average amplitudes were (30.6±4.2) ppb at Mauna Loa and (57.5±11.4) ppb at Barrow. A discrepancy exists between these two methods due to the temporal variability in the positions of the seasonal maxima. The average trend at Mauna Loa was 9.7 ppb yr−1, but this trend was observed to decrease at a rate of 1.5 ppb yr−2. For Barrow the average trend was 8.5 ppb yr−1, and the rate of decrease in the trend was 2.1 ppb yr−2. At Mauna Loa, a diurnal cycle was sometimes observed with an amplitude of up to 10 ppb when averaged over 1 month.