Rice cultivation areas in East, Southeast and South Asia account for 89% of the world total, and field measurements of methane (CH4) emission from rice cultivation have been widely performed in this area. In this paper, we assembled most of the measurements and developed region-specific CH4 emission factors. Efforts were made in order to regionalize rice fields by climate and soil properties, and to incorporate the effect of organic input and water regime on emission. Data on rice cultivation areas of 1995 were collected at subdivision level (province, state, prefecture, etc.). Total emission from these areas was estimated at 25.1 Tg CH4 year−1, of which 7.67 Tg was emitted from China and 5.88 Tg from India. Irrigated and rainfed rice fields contributed 70.4 and 27.5% to the total emission, respectively. Deepwater rice fields had a very small share. A high-resolution and quality emission distribution map was constructed as the emission was directly estimated at province level and below that, a 30-second land-use dataset was used in order to translate the emission to grid format. As the rice cultivation area in the study region accounts for 89% of the world total, extrapolating the estimate to the global scale indicates a global emission of 28.2 Tg CH4 year−1.
The estimate was compared with country reports made by local scientists. For some countries – such as Indonesia, Myanmar, Thailand, Vietnam, Japan, South Korea, Pakistan and the Philippines – the results of this estimate agree reasonably well with their country reports (CV < 15%). For some other countries – such as China, India and Bangladesh – there is relatively large disagreement between our estimate and their country reports. The reasons for the discrepancies were discussed.