According to a new study published in Nature Geoscience, the warming effect of methane on the Earth’s atmosphere has been overestimated by about 30%.

Although methane is a potent greenhouse gas, absorbing both longwave and shortwave radiation, its absorption of shortwave radiation high in the atmosphere leads to fewer clouds in the upper layer, which actually cools the lower troposphere and leads to more clouds.

These thicker low-level clouds reflect more of the sun’s shortwave radiation back out to space, leading to a cooling effect that overwhelms the warming due to absorption.

However, methane still remains a significant gas that needs to be targeted in emissions reductions, as human activities like cattle farming and fossil fuel use are responsible for most of the methane entering the atmosphere, worsening global warming.

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