Freshwater methane release changes greenhouse gas equation

Jan 06, 2011

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 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 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 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 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 budgets."

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 Linköping 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.

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User comments : 17

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Quantum_Conundrum
2.1 / 5 (11) Jan 06, 2011
The greenhouse effect is caused by human emission of gasses that act like a blanket and trap heat inside the Earth's atmosphere...


That is an absolutely false and ridiculous statement.
jonnyboy
2.6 / 5 (5) Jan 06, 2011
And the rest of the article is obvious.
jwalkeriii
3.7 / 5 (3) Jan 06, 2011
The greenhouse effect is a naturally occurring process that aids in heating the Earth's surface and atmosphere. It results from the fact that certain atmospheric gases, such as carbon dioxide, water vapor, and methane, are able to change the energy balance of the planet by absorbing longwave radiation emitted from the Earth's surface. Without the greenhouse effect life on this planet would probably not exist as the average temperature of the Earth would be a chilly -18° Celsius, rather than the present 15° Celsius.

Found this nice description above in a Google search.
Howhot
3 / 5 (4) Jan 06, 2011
The greenhouse effect is caused by human emission of gasses that act like a blanket and trap heat inside the Earth's atmosphere...


That is an absolutely false and ridiculous statement.

I thought it was a good analogy. Why do you think it is a ridiculous statement?
mattbroderick
2 / 5 (4) Jan 06, 2011
The greenhouse effect is caused by human emission of gasses that act like a blanket and trap heat inside the Earth's atmosphere...


That is an absolutely false and ridiculous statement.

I thought it was a good analogy. Why do you think it is a ridiculous statement?


"Human emission" should read "natural cycling"
irjsiq
1.8 / 5 (5) Jan 06, 2011
Hush now!
And eat your 'Carbon Tax'!; which will change Your Bank Account!,
If No Change in the 'natural cycle' of "Ages, Epochs, and Eons"; . . . but, who will know?
Except Your Money and You were parted!

Roy J Stewart,
Phoenix AZ
Howhot
3 / 5 (4) Jan 06, 2011
I don't pay carbon tax. I pay silicon tax for my solar panels.
Howhot
2.3 / 5 (3) Jan 07, 2011
The greenhouse effect is caused by human emission of gasses that act like a blanket and trap heat inside the Earth's atmosphere...


That is an absolutely false and ridiculous statement.

I thought it was a good analogy. Why do you think it is a ridiculous statement?


"Human emission" should read "natural cycling"

I don't understand. Natural Cycling is causing global warmin? How did that happen and how can we stop it? ~600ppm CO2 in 40 years and we are at just about 400ppm right now. In 1960 it was 300ppm. And according to "YOUR THEORY" it's all nice a good natural cycling. What do you like in unicorn land?
Howhot
2.3 / 5 (3) Jan 07, 2011
And now; Co2 causes global-warming; that heats up many of the freshwater lakes that then release more methane and the BAMB! 20 years of run-away global warming from the methane bubble. Yeap, we can not deal with CO2 fast enough.

ormondotvos
3 / 5 (2) Jan 07, 2011
"Turfin' USA"

You guys are starting to sound funny to me. Sorry. I must get serious. Ain't a one of ya I couldn't take in a face to face debate.

The complexity of the "issue" of the human race -- overpopulation, waste, war, pollution, greed. And you want to pick the battleground as CO2?

Your denial will melt like the icecap.
Uri
5 / 5 (3) Jan 07, 2011
That is an absolutely false and ridiculous statement.


Not sure why you got rated down, the greenhouse effect is caused by physics. You can argue how much humans are affecting the greenhouse effect by contributing various GHGs but there is / was a greenhouse effect without humans on the planet.
PPihkala
2.3 / 5 (3) Jan 07, 2011
Global warming is with big probability caused by human produced increase in greenhouse effect. There has been greenhouse effect even before humans entered the equation, but currently the fast increase in greenhouse gases is caused by human pollution, which then causes the warming of the planet compared to case were those gases were modulated only by non-human effects. Even if we could forget the atmospheric effects of that pollution, rising air CO2 will wreak havoc in the oceans by killing marine organisms by rising acidity. That effect alone is a good reason to stop and reverse the CO2 pollution going on every day. When we add global warming effects, then we have double reason for this remedy.
RealScience
1 / 5 (1) Jan 08, 2011
Quantum is actually relatively right in his comment - by far the bulk of the greenhouse effect is natural.

Human emissions are INCREASING the greenhouse effect. For that the blanket analogy is actually pretty good - in rough numbers we have added 100 PPM of CO2. Air pressure is 100,000 Pascals, so 100 ppm is 1 kg per square meter (2 pounds per square yard for imperialists).
A light blanket is indeed around 2 pounds per square yard.

CO2 is only a moderate reflector of heat, so all else being equal, the heating would be modest.
But if we know one thing it is that not all else will be equal, since there are both positive and negative feedbacks. And that's where the arguments and simulations begin!
Skepticus_Rex
1 / 5 (4) Jan 08, 2011
...~600ppm CO2 in 40 years and we are at just about 400ppm right now. In 1960 it was 300ppm....


We currently are at about 389.69 ppm globally averaged. In other words, according to your figure we have raised global levels of CO2 by 89.69 ppm in five decades. Big whoop... :)
Skepticus_Rex
1 / 5 (4) Jan 08, 2011
From 1980 to 2006 we raised CO2 an average of 1.6 ppm per year (some years more or less than others but we are talking about averages here). At that rate, we will increase CO2 levels by a 'whopping' (sarcasm intended) 64 ppm in 40 years.

That will make our CO2 levels somewhere around 453.69 ppm or thereabouts in that same time frame, assuming no change in emissions from now until then.

Only if we apply an 'exaggeration factor' like that used by the IPCC will we double CO2 over current levels in 40 years.

Note: I am quite tired at the moment and have no inclination to recheck and recalculate, so I may have missed something but if I did it will not be by much. Anyone is welcome to confirm the math on their own based on current data... :)
Sancho
1 / 5 (2) Jan 09, 2011
This phenomenon puts the lie to AGW. Climate models don't account for natural seepage of methane. Since methane is a far more powerful greenhouse gas than CO2 (though more transitory) and far more abundant, it's possible global temperatures respond more to fluctuations in methane levels (unknown magnitude) than fluctuations in CO2 (known levels but correlation with warming is problematic).
Skeptic_Heretic
1 / 5 (2) Jan 15, 2011
The greenhouse effect is caused by human emission of gasses that act like a blanket and trap heat inside the Earth's atmosphere...


That is an absolutely false and ridiculous statement.

No, that's exactly what the greenhouse effect actually was at inception. It is properly referred to as "the theory that gasses trap heat in the atmosphere and warm the earth" currently.

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