Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Wetland trees a significant overlooked source of methane

Date:
February 13, 2013
Source:
University of Bristol
Summary:
Wetland trees are a significant overlooked source of the potent greenhouse gas methane, according to a new study. The study may help to resolve an ongoing controversy about the origins of methane in the tropics.

Sunitha Pangala sampling methane emissions from trees in a peat swamp in Borneo.
Credit: Image courtesy of University of Bristol

Wetland trees are a significant overlooked source of the potent greenhouse gas methane, according to a new study by researchers at The Open University and the Universities of Bristol and Oxford. The study, led by Dr Vincent Gauci of The Open University and published in the journal New Phytologist, may help to resolve an ongoing controversy about the origins of methane in the tropics.

Related Articles


Wetlands are a well-established and prolific source of atmospheric methane. Yet despite an abundance of seething swamps and flooded forests in the tropics, ground-based measurements of methane have fallen well short of the quantities detected in tropical air by satellites.

In 2011, Sunitha Pangala, a PhD student at The Open University, who is co-supervised by University of Bristol researcher Dr Ed Hornibrook, spent several weeks in a forested peat swamp in Borneo with colleague Sam Moore, assessing whether soil methane might be escaping to the atmosphere by an alternative route.

Sunitha Pangala said: "Methane emissions normally are measured by putting sealed chambers on the ground to capture gas seeping or bubbling from the soil. We also enclosed tree stems in chambers and the results were surprising. About 80 per cent of all methane emissions was venting through the trees."

The roots of trees, like all plants, need oxygen to survive. One strategy that trees use to cope in waterlogged soil is to enlarge porous structures, known as lenticels, in their stems to allow air to enter and diffuse to their roots. Pangala and colleagues have shown that these common adaptations in wetland trees are two-way conduits that also allow soil gas to escape to the atmosphere.

Dr Gauci said: "This work challenges current models of how forested wetlands exchange methane with the atmosphere. Ground-based estimates of methane flux in the tropics may be coming up short because tree emissions are never included in field campaigns."

Although willow is a familiar inhabitant of wet soil, it was not among the trees studied in the Sebangau River catchment in Borneo. However, the eight tree species investigated by the team are common in the tropics, including the vast Amazon Basin. Establishing whether tree-mediated emissions of methane are ubiquitous in tropical wetlands is now the focus of a new three-year Natural Environment Research Council grant to Dr Gauci and Dr Hornibrook that begins later this year.


Story Source:

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


Journal Reference:

  1. Pangala S.R., Moore S., Hornibrook E.R.C., and Gauci V. Trees are major conduits for methane egress from tropical forested wetlands. New Phytologist, 2013

Cite This Page:

University of Bristol. "Wetland trees a significant overlooked source of methane." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 13 February 2013. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/02/130213100724.htm>.
University of Bristol. (2013, February 13). Wetland trees a significant overlooked source of methane. ScienceDaily. Retrieved April 20, 2015 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/02/130213100724.htm
University of Bristol. "Wetland trees a significant overlooked source of methane." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/02/130213100724.htm (accessed April 20, 2015).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Plants & Animals News

Monday, April 20, 2015

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Deepwater And Dolphins: The Oil Spill's Impact 5 Years On

Deepwater And Dolphins: The Oil Spill's Impact 5 Years On

Newsy (Apr. 20, 2015) Five years on, the possible environmental impact of the Deepwater Horizon spill includes a sustained die-off of bottlenose dolphins, among others. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Five Years Later, the BP Oil Spill Is Still Taking Its Toll

Five Years Later, the BP Oil Spill Is Still Taking Its Toll

AFP (Apr. 20, 2015) On April 20, 2010, an explosion and fire on the Deepwater Horizon rig in the Gulf of Mexico started the biggest oil spill in US history. BP recently reported the Gulf is recovering well, but scientists paint a different picture. Duration: 02:36 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Thai Customs Seize African Elephant Tusks Worth $6 Mn

Thai Customs Seize African Elephant Tusks Worth $6 Mn

AFP (Apr. 20, 2015) Thai customs seize four tonnes of African elephant ivory worth $6 million at a Bangkok port in a container labelled as beans. Duration: 00:47 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Un-Bee-Lievable: Bees on the Loose After Washington Truck Crash

Un-Bee-Lievable: Bees on the Loose After Washington Truck Crash

Reuters - US Online Video (Apr. 17, 2015) A truck carrying honey bees overturns near Lynnwood, Washington, spreading boxes of live bees across the highway. Rough Cut (no reporter narration). Video provided by Reuters
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:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Plants & Animals

Earth & Climate

Fossils & Ruins

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