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  • A gas created by anaerobic decomposition of organic compounds. Natural gas is composed mostly of methane. Methane is a so-called greenhouse gas (see greenhouse effect). Agricultural wastes, especially animal wastes, are a major source of methane releases to the atmosphere.
  • CH4, a colorless, odorless, flammable, greenhouse gas. It is the simplest of all hydrocarbons with a formula of CH4. Methane is released naturally into the air from anaerobic environments such as marshes, swamps, and rice fields, and from symbiotic microbes in the guts of ruminant animals (such as cattle, sheep, and camels), and sewage sludge. Methane is released from methane producing bacteria (methanogens) that live in these anaerobic places. Methanogens in termite guts are the source of methane released by termites. The discovery that termites may be a significant source of atmospheric methane is attributed to work by Patrick Zimmerman and his research group members at the National Center for Atmospheric Research in Boulder Colorado (see reference immediately below and papers in the scientific literature). [Solar Energy; v52n6; 467-477; 1994.] [Air, The Nature of Atmosphere and the Climate; Michael Allaby; pages 39,40; 1992; Facts on File; New York] [Dictionary of Science; R.K. Barnhart; page 398; 1986; Houghton Mifflin Company; Boston.] Source: Atmospheric Chemistry Glossary