Tropical regions, especially the Amazon region, account for large emissions of methane (CH4). Here, we present CH4 observations from two airborne campaigns conducted within the BARCA (Balanco Atmosferico Regional de Carbono na Amazonia) project in the Amazon basin in November 2008 (end of the dry season) and May 2009 (end of the wet season). We performed continuous measurements of CH4 onboard an aircraft for the first time in the Amazon region, covering the whole Amazon basin with over 150 vertical profiles between altitudes of 500 m and 4000 m. The observations support the finding of previous ground-based, airborne, and satellite measurements that the Amazon basin is a large source of atmospheric CH4. Isotope analysis verified that the majority of emissions can be attributed to CH4 emissions from wetlands, while urban CH4 emissions could be also traced back to biogenic origin. A comparison of five TM5 based global CH4 inversions with the observations clearly indicates that the inversions using SCIAMACHY observations represent the BARCA observations best. The calculated CH4 flux estimate obtained from the mismatch between observations and TM5-modeled CH4 fields ranges from 36 to 43 mg m(-2) d(-1) for the Amazon lowland region.