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 August 30, 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 August 30, 2014).

Share This




More Earth & Climate News

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Raw: Volcano Erupts on Papua New Guinea

Raw: Volcano Erupts on Papua New Guinea

AP (Aug. 29, 2014) — Several communities were evacuated and some international flights were diverted on Friday after one of the most active volcanos in the region erupts. (Aug. 29) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Raw: Small Volcanic Eruption in Iceland

Raw: Small Volcanic Eruption in Iceland

AP (Aug. 29, 2014) — Icelandic authorities briefly raised the aviation warning code to red on Friday during a small eruption at the Holuhraun lava field in the Bardabunga volcano system. (Aug. 29) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
As Drought Continues LA "water Police" Fight Waste

As Drought Continues LA "water Police" Fight Waste

AFP (Aug. 29, 2014) — In the midst of a historic drought, Los Angeles is increasing efforts to go after people who waste water. Five water conservation "cops" drive around the city every day educating homeowners about the drought. Duration: 02:17 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Killer Amoeba Found in Louisiana Water System

Killer Amoeba Found in Louisiana Water System

AP (Aug. 28, 2014) — State health officials say testing has confirmed the presence of a killer amoeba in a water system serving three St. John the Baptist Parish towns. (Aug. 28) 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