Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Freshwater methane release changes greenhouse gas equation

Date:
January 6, 2011
Source:
Iowa State University
Summary:
Scientists have found that greenhouse gas uptake by continents is less than previously thought because of methane emissions from freshwater areas. This new study gives scientists a better understanding of the balance between carbon sequestration and greenhouse gas releases from fresh water bodies.

Greenhouse gas uptake by continents is less than previously thought because of methane emissions from freshwater areas.
Credit: Copyright Michele Hogan

An international team of scientists has released data indicating that greenhouse gas uptake by continents is less than previously thought because of methane emissions from freshwater areas.

John Downing, an Iowa State University professor in the ecology, evolution and organismal biology department, is part of an international team that concluded that methane release from inland waters is higher than previous estimates.

The study, published in the journal Science, indicates that methane gas release from freshwater areas changes the net absorption of greenhouse gases by natural continental environments, such as forests, by at least 25 percent. Past analyses of carbon and greenhouse gas exchanges on continents failed to account for the methane gas that is naturally released from lakes and running water.

Downing, a laboratory limnologist at Iowa State, has also conducted research measuring the amount of carbon sequestered in lake and pond sediment. This new study gives scientists a better understanding of the balance between carbon sequestration and greenhouse gas releases from fresh water bodies.

"Methane is a greenhouse gas that is more potent than carbon dioxide in the global change scenario," Downing said. "The bottom line is that we have uncovered an important accounting error in the global carbon budget. Acre for acre, lakes, ponds, rivers and streams are many times more active in carbon processing than seas or land surfaces, so they need to be included in global carbon budgets."

Methane emissions from lakes and running water occur naturally, but have been difficult to assess. David Bastviken, principal author and professor in the department of water and environmental studies, at Linkφping University in Sweden, said small methane emissions from the surfaces of water bodies occur continuously.

"Greater emissions occur suddenly and with irregular timing, when methane bubbles from the sediment reach the atmosphere, and such fluxes have been difficult to measure," Bastviken said.

The greenhouse effect is caused by human emission of gasses that act like a blanket and trap heat inside the Earth's atmosphere, according to the International Panel on Climate Change. Some ecosystems, such as forests can absorb and store greenhouse gasses. The balance between emissions and uptake determine how climate will change. The role of freshwater environments has been unclear in previous budgets, Downing said.

The researchers studied methane fluxes from 474 freshwater areas and calculated emission based on new estimates of the global area covered by inland waters. The international team also included: Lars Tranvik, Uppsala University; Patrick Crill, Stockholm University; and Alex Enrich-Prast, University Federal of Rio de Janeiro.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Iowa State University. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. D. Bastviken, L. J. Tranvik, J. A. Downing, P. M. Crill, A. Enrich-Prast. Freshwater Methane Emissions Offset the Continental Carbon Sink. Science, 2011; 331 (6013): 50 DOI: 10.1126/science.1196808

Cite This Page:

Iowa State University. "Freshwater methane release changes greenhouse gas equation." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 6 January 2011. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/01/110106153119.htm>.
Iowa State University. (2011, January 6). Freshwater methane release changes greenhouse gas equation. ScienceDaily. Retrieved September 20, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/01/110106153119.htm
Iowa State University. "Freshwater methane release changes greenhouse gas equation." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/01/110106153119.htm (accessed September 20, 2014).

Share This



More Earth & Climate News

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Climate Change Rally Held in India Ahead of UN Summit

Climate Change Rally Held in India Ahead of UN Summit

AFP (Sep. 20, 2014) — Some 125 world leaders are expected to commit to action on climate change at a UN summit Tuesday called to inject momentum in struggling efforts to tackle global warming. Duration: 00:41 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
New Music With Recycled Instruments at Colombia Fest

New Music With Recycled Instruments at Colombia Fest

AFP (Sep. 19, 2014) — Jars, bottles, caps and even a pizza box, recovered from the trash, were the elements used by four musical groups at the "RSFEST2014 Sonorities Recycling Festival", in Colombian city of Cali. Duration: 00:49 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Raw: Wildfires in CA Burn Forest Asunder

Raw: Wildfires in CA Burn Forest Asunder

AP (Sep. 18, 2014) — An out-of-control Northern California wildfire has nearly 2,800 people from their homes as it continues to grow, authorities said Thursday. Authorities said a man has been arrested on suspicion of arson for starting the fire on Saturday. (Sept. 18) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Raw: Elephant Undergoes Surgery in Tbilisi Zoo

Raw: Elephant Undergoes Surgery in Tbilisi Zoo

AP (Sep. 18, 2014) — Grand the elephant has successfully undergone surgery to remove a portion of infected tusk at Tbilisi Zoo in Georgia. British veterinary surgeons used an electric drill to extract the infected piece. (Sept. 18) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
 
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:  

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:  

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile iPhone Android Web
Follow Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins