A statistical analysis of time trends in atmospheric ethane

Marina Friedrich*, Eric Beutner, Hanno Reuvers, Stephan Smeekes, Jean-pierre Urbain, Whitney Bader, Bruno Franco, Bernard Lejeune, Emmanuel Mahieu

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Ethane is the most abundant non-methane hydrocarbon in the Earth’s atmosphere and an important precursor of tropospheric ozone through various chemical pathways. Ethane is also an indirect greenhouse gas (global warming potential), influencing the atmospheric lifetime of methane through the consumption of the hydroxyl radical (OH). Understanding the development of trends and identifying trend reversals in atmospheric ethane is therefore crucial. Our dataset consists of four series of daily ethane columns. As with many other decadal time series, our data are characterized by autocorrelation, heteroskedasticity, and seasonal effects. Additionally, missing observations due to instrument failure or unfavorable measurement conditions are common in such series. The goal of this paper is therefore to analyze trends in atmospheric ethane with statistical tools that correctly address these data features. We present selected methods designed for the analysis of time trends and trend reversals. We consider bootstrap inference on broken linear trends and smoothly varying nonlinear trends. In particular, for the broken trend model, we propose a bootstrap method for inference on the break location and the corresponding changes in slope. For the smooth trend model, we construct simultaneous confidence bands around the nonparametrically estimated trend. Our autoregressive wild bootstrap approach, combined with a seasonal filter, is able to handle all issues mentioned above (we provide R code for all proposed methods on https://www.stephansmeekes.nl/code.).
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)105-125
Number of pages21
JournalClimatic Change
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2020


  • atmospheric ethane
  • bootstrapping
  • break point estimation
  • trend analysis
  • Break point estimation
  • Atmospheric ethane
  • Bootstrapping
  • Trend analysis

Cite this