Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Global warming may increase methane emissions from freshwater ecosystems

Date:
March 19, 2014
Source:
University of Exeter
Summary:
Rising global temperatures will increase the quantity of the key greenhouse gas methane emitted from freshwater ecosystems to Earth's atmosphere -- which could in turn lead to further warming, new research suggests. The study collated data from hundreds of laboratory experiments and field surveys to demonstrate that the speed at which methane fluxes increase with temperature was the same whether single species populations of methanogens, microbial communities or whole ecosystems were analyzed.

Field Site in Pantanal, Brazil: The study collated data from hundreds of laboratory experiments and field surveys to ascertain the speed at which methane fluxes increase with temperature.
Credit: Professor Ralf Conrad

New research led by the University of Exeter suggests that rising global temperatures will increase the quantity of the key greenhouse gas methane emitted from freshwater ecosystems to Earth's atmosphere -- which could in turn lead to further warming.

The collaborative study, led by Dr Gabriel Yvon-Durocher from the University of Exeter, collated data from hundreds of laboratory experiments and field surveys to demonstrate that the speed at which methane fluxes increase with temperature was the same whether single species populations of methanogens, microbial communities or whole ecosystems were analyzed.

Dr Yvon-Durocher said: "This is important because biological methane fluxes are a major component of global methane emissions, but there is uncertainty about their magnitude and the factors that regulate them. This hinders our ability to predict the response of this key component of the carbon cycle to global warming. Our research provides scientists with an important clue about the mechanisms that may control the response of methane emissions from ecosystems to global warming."

Methane is an important greenhouse gas because it has 25 times the global warming effect of carbon dioxide. The production of methane in freshwater ecosystems is brought about by an ancient group of microorganisms called Archaea that exist in waterlogged sediments where there is no oxygen. They play an important role in the decomposition of biomass, but rather than producing carbon dioxide, they produce methane as a by-product of their metabolism.

The report, published in the scientific journal Nature, also showed that the temperature response of methane production is much higher than respiration (production of carbon dioxide) or photosynthesis (consumption of carbon dioxide), indicating that global warming may increase the amount of methane relative to carbon dioxide emitted globally from aquatic ecosystems, terrestrial wetlands and rice paddies.

Dr Yvon-Durocher, from the Environment and Sustainability Institute at the University of Exeter's Penryn Campus in Cornwall, added: "The discovery that methane fluxes are much more responsive to temperature than the processes that produce and consume carbon dioxide highlights another mechanism by which the global carbon cycle may serve to accelerate rather than mitigate future climate change. However more research, using our results as a platform for refining Earth system models, is required to explore the consequences of our findings for future levels of climate change."


Story Source:

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


Journal Reference:

  1. Gabriel Yvon-Durocher, Andrew P. Allen, David Bastviken, Ralf Conrad, Cristian Gudasz, Annick St-Pierre, Nguyen Thanh-Duc, Paul A. del Giorgio. Methane fluxes show consistent temperature dependence across microbial to ecosystem scales. Nature, 2014; DOI: 10.1038/nature13164

Cite This Page:

University of Exeter. "Global warming may increase methane emissions from freshwater ecosystems." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 19 March 2014. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/03/140319143900.htm>.
University of Exeter. (2014, March 19). Global warming may increase methane emissions from freshwater ecosystems. ScienceDaily. Retrieved September 18, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/03/140319143900.htm
University of Exeter. "Global warming may increase methane emissions from freshwater ecosystems." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/03/140319143900.htm (accessed September 18, 2014).

Share This



More Earth & Climate News

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

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
Raw: Scientists Examine Colossal Squid

Raw: Scientists Examine Colossal Squid

AP (Sep. 16, 2014) Squid experts in New Zealand thawed and examined an unusual catch on Tuesday: a colossal squid. It was captured in Antarctica's remote Ross Sea in December last year and has been frozen for eight months. (Sept. 16) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Man Floats for 31 Hours in Gulf Waters

Man Floats for 31 Hours in Gulf Waters

AP (Sep. 16, 2014) A Texas man is lucky to be alive after he and three others floated for more than a day in the Gulf of Mexico when their boat sank during a fishing trip. (Sept. 16) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Researchers Explore Shipwrecks Off Calif. Coast

Researchers Explore Shipwrecks Off Calif. Coast

AP (Sep. 16, 2014) Federal researchers are exploring more than a dozen underwater sites where they believe ships sank in the treacherous waters west of San Francisco in the decades following the Gold Rush. (Sept. 16) 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