Large regional shortwave forcing by anthropogenic methane informed by Jovian observations.
Published Web Locationhttps://doi.org/10.1126/sciadv.aas9593
Recently, it was recognized that widely used calculations of methane radiative forcing systematically underestimated its global value by 15% by omitting its shortwave effects. We show that shortwave forcing by methane can be accurately calculated despite considerable uncertainty and large gaps in its shortwave spectroscopy. We demonstrate that the forcing is insensitive, even when confronted with much more complete methane absorption spectra extending to violet light wavelengths derived from observations of methane-rich Jovian planets. We undertake the first spatially resolved global calculations of this forcing and find that it is dependent on bright surface features and clouds. Localized annual mean forcing from preindustrial to present-day methane increases approaches +0.25 W/m2, 10 times the global annualized shortwave forcing and 43% of the total direct CH4 forcing. Shortwave forcing by anthropogenic methane is sufficiently large and accurate to warrant its inclusion in historical analyses, projections, and mitigation strategies for climate change.