US rivers and streams saturated with carbon

Oct 17, 2011
A satellite view of the Mississippi River shows a mosaic of riverbank land-use patterns. Credit: NASA

Rivers and streams in the United States are releasing enough carbon into the atmosphere to fuel 3.4 million car trips to the moon, according to Yale researchers in Nature Geoscience. Their findings could change the way scientists model the movement of carbon between land, water and the atmosphere.

"These breathe a lot of carbon," said David Butman, a doctoral student and co-author of a study with Pete Raymond, professor of ecosystem ecology, both at the Yale School of Forestry & Environmental Studies. "They are a source of CO2, just like we breathe CO2 and like smokestacks emit CO2, and this has never been systematically estimated from a region as large as the ."

The researchers assert that a significant amount of carbon contained in land, which first is absorbed by plants and forests through the air, is leaking into and rivers and then released into the before reaching coastal waterways.

"What we are able to show is that there is a source of atmospheric CO2 from streams and rivers, and that it is significant enough for terrestrial modelers to take note of it," said Butman.

They analyzed samples taken by the United States Geological Survey from over 4,000 rivers and streams throughout the United States, and incorporated highly detailed geospatial data to model the flux of carbon dioxide from water. This release of carbon, said Butman, is the same as a car burning 40 billion gallons of gasoline.

The paper, titled "Significant Efflux of Carbon Dioxide from Streams and Rivers in the United States," also indicates that as the climate heats up there will be more rain and snow, and that an increase in precipitation will result in even more terrestrial carbon flowing into rivers and streams and being released into the atmosphere.

"This would mean that any estimate between carbon uptake in the biosphere and carbon being released through respiration in the biosphere will be even less likely to balance and must include the carbon in streams and rivers," he said.

The researchers note in the paper that currently it is impossible to determine exactly how to include this flux in regional budgets, because the influence of human activity on the release of CO2 into streams and rivers is still unknown.

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User comments : 17

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RCB
1.6 / 5 (14) Oct 17, 2011
So what! Moving water readily absorbs CO2 from the atmosphere. If there were no grant bucks in researching CO2 none of these educated morons would care. The EPA can hardly wait to designate all rivers, streams and lakes as sources of "pollution". Bring on the budget cuts and dry up all climate change grants. I don't care that rich Yale funded the research; I'd be happy if no institution spent another dollar on anything related to "climate change".
SteveL
4.6 / 5 (11) Oct 17, 2011
I don't care if it's for "Climate Change" or "Energy Independence" - We need to develop and implement sustainable energy sources. Some in the industry like to bring up 100 years worth of natural gas (in the USA), well that's not sustainable because it will get harder and more expensive to acquire energy and eventually it will run out.

We need to think beyond our selfish lives and that of just our children and our qrandchildren. The (expletive) will hit the fan in some of our lifetimes when energy prices hit some eventual tipping point.
Peteri
4.6 / 5 (9) Oct 17, 2011
RCB sounds like yet another American (possibly with an inferiority complex about his own education), head-down, breathing in sand, as they continue to pretend to themselves that they can carry on as normal with their profligate materialistic lifestyle and not reap the consequences! Like little children threatened with having their favourite toys taken away, they'll wriggle and scream and point the finger of blame at everyone else but themselves in their desperate attempt to cling on to their unsustainable way of living.
rawa1
1 / 5 (4) Oct 17, 2011
The burning of fossil carbon is the silliest way of energy production. We know about cold fusion processes twenty years already. It's like the burning of woods in camp fires under the situation, we have plenty of uranium available (which we haven't, btw).

http://www.neimag...=2031821
kaasinees
4.1 / 5 (10) Oct 17, 2011
So what!


It raises the risk of cancer and other health related problems.

Plus its a factor to take in for climate models.
I am getting tired of idiots on this website.
Peteri
5 / 5 (7) Oct 17, 2011
@rawa1: So far, there is no hard evidence that "cold" fusion even exists, and even less evidence that it would ever be a usable energy source.
Jayded
3 / 5 (2) Oct 17, 2011
I dont get how it would make a difference, its not like the rivers just started flowing and whatever carbon they emitted would of already been included in a climate models past and future.
@RCB - Grow up dude, its one thing that you are clearly a fool but to spread it is just dangerous.
_nigmatic10
5 / 5 (1) Oct 17, 2011
So how much are they suppose to have versus current readings? Do we have any non-industrial readings for each river? The end of the article even reflects this disparity of data. So the real question here is what is the real purpose of this entire study?
antonima
not rated yet Oct 17, 2011
@rawa1: So far, there is no hard evidence that "cold" fusion even exists, and even less evidence that it would ever be a usable energy source.


Cold fusion has been replicated in hundreds of laboratories and classrooms around the world - but it uses more energy than it generates ;)
Callippo
1 / 5 (2) Oct 17, 2011
Cold fusion has been replicated in hundreds of laboratories and classrooms around the world - but it uses more energy than it generates ;)
Cold fusion of hydrogen at nickel was never attempted to replicate, in peer-reviewed journal the less - although it's twenty years old already.

http://www.lenr-c...xces.pdf

.. even less evidence that it would ever be a usable energy source
The physics is an experimental science and the experiment always goes first. If you wouldn't do any experiment, you would never get an evidence.

There exists only one robust evidence: the evidence of complete lack of serious attempts for replication of this finding. Everything else is just a speculation.
Cynical1
5 / 5 (3) Oct 17, 2011
Even if we WEREN'T changing the climate with our CO2 emissions - what would it hurt to reduce it? Humans are tinkerers, so lets give it shot and see what happens...
jackofshadows
3 / 5 (2) Oct 18, 2011
@nigmatic10 "So the real question here is what is the real purpose of this entire study?" Why to get another grant to continue to study, apparently, since "currently it is impossible to determine exactly how to include this flux in regional carbon budgets, because the influence of human activity on the release of CO2 into streams and rivers is still unknown." I'm actually interested to see what they find out, since the C02 flows should have knock-on effects no matter what your Global Warming position happens to be.
mgb
2.9 / 5 (7) Oct 18, 2011
Sorry for this injection of politics, but...
Occupy Wall Street!

People, not corporations, possess the moral tools to deal with stuff like this.
lairdwilcox
1 / 5 (1) Oct 18, 2011
If the water is releasing all of this carbon dioxide it looks like all this gasoline mileage stuff was a waste of time. We could have been taking all these trips to the moon that we missed out on. Bummer.
SteveL
not rated yet Oct 18, 2011
If the water is releasing all of this carbon dioxide it looks like all this gasoline mileage stuff was a waste of time. We could have been taking all these trips to the moon that we missed out on. Bummer.
This is CO2 released that was already absorbed and stored. If anything it should indicate a reduction in CO2 storage by soil as the soil is apparently less of a CO2 sink than it was previously considered.
Shootist
1 / 5 (2) Oct 22, 2011
Sorry for this injection of politics, but...
Occupy Wall Street!

People, not corporations, possess the moral tools to deal with stuff like this.


Corporations aren't people? They aren't run by people? Owned by people, for use by people, to make jobs for people, so (the evil) corporations can make money for the people who own them, provide investment opportunities for Union (and non-union) Pension Funds and individuals?

If a corporation acts *evil*, and enough of you have (the same) moral cow; stop buying the products: The people in the corporations will change their behavior. If there isn't enough of you, moral cows, then your idea wasn't good enough in the first place.
nxtr
not rated yet Oct 22, 2011
please people. At the rate of technological advancement, only an idiot would think that in 35 years we will have to worry about energy, or anything else, other than having solved all the physical problems and therefore being left with the existential ones.

Use your science nerd minds and project the rate of advancement of computing power and nano tech to overcome all problems, and us as well LOL