Molecule of the Month
September 2019
14CH4: Radiocarbon Measurements of Atmospheric Methane

Methane (CH4) contributes substantially to global warming as the second most important anthropogenic greenhouse gas. Radiocarbon (14C) measurements of atmospheric CH4 can be used to evaluate the proportion of fossil sources (e.g. natural gas, fossil-fuel combustion) and contemporary sources (e.g. agriculture, wetlands).

We developed a new CH4 preconcentration and purification setup, which allows 14CH4 measurements of atmospheric air. We currently compare three strategic sites in Switzerland: the Jungfraujoch research station (continental background), the Beromünster tall tower (rural area) and the DCB in Bern (urban area).

This work, funded by the Dr. Alfred Bretscher Scholarship, is carried out in the group of Prof. Dr. Sönke Szidat.


  • C. Espic, M. Liechti, M. Battaglia, D. Paul, T. Röckmann, S. Szidat;
    "Compound-specific radiocarbon analysis of atmospheric methane: a new preconcentration and purification setup"
    Radiocarbon, 2019, in press; doi:10.1017/RDC.2019.76.