Researchers find ancient carbon resurfacing in lakes, challenge current models of long-term carbon storage

Oct 04, 2012 by Sathya Achia Abraham
Researchers find ancient carbon resurfacing in lakes
This is an aerial view of the southern Quebec lakes where researchers have found ancient carbon resurfacing. Credit: Annick St. Pierre

(Phys.org)—A new study reveals that a significant amount of carbon released into the atmosphere from lakes and rivers in Southern Québec, Canada, is very old – approximately 1,000 to 3,000 years old – challenging the current models of long-term carbon storage in lakes and rivers.

Previous studies have suggested that there is a tight coupling between the terrestrial and such that aquatic bacteria rapidly consume modern . The new findings of the respiration of old carbon in aquatic systems suggests there may be significant lags in the coupling between these systems and further represents an additional, unaccounted for source of to the atmosphere.

It is well established that bacteria in northern waters process carbon from their terrestrial surroundings. But the findings from Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond, Va., and Université du Québec à Montréal in Montreal, Canada, challenge the widely held belief that older carbon sources are not available to bacteria and have been largely removed from the carbon feedback loop between earth and air.

In a new study published online this week in the Early Edition of the , S. Leigh McCallister, assistant professor of biology in the VCU College of Humanities and Sciences and the VCU Center for Environmental Studies and an affiliate faculty member in the VCU Rice Center, and Paul A. del Giorgio, Ph.D., professor in the Department of Biological Sciences at the Université du Québec à Montréal, used radiocarbon dating to assess the age of carbon respired by bacteria and released into the atmosphere as carbon dioxide. They observed that some of the carbon consumed dated as far back as 1,000 to 3,000 years.

While these findings are regional, McCallister and del Giorgio noted that if most northern waterways are likewise selectively processing older carbon, the global output of carbon dioxide from these ancient sources could be significant. Carbon dioxide is a greenhouse gas and its increase in the atmosphere provides a positive feedback to climate change, meaning it amplifies it.

"While it is not clear if this release of ancient carbon is new or related to anthropogenic climate change, it supplies an additional source of carbon dioxide to the atmosphere," said McCallister.

"This study illustrates the need to incorporate the potential processing of pre-aged, or older, carbon sources into current carbon models," she said.

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User comments : 11

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Lino235
1 / 5 (9) Oct 04, 2012
Oh, so does this mean that maybe ocean warming, caused by close contact of magma to the ocean bottom, might explain current global warming?

Eh, mendicar?
Lurker2358
3 / 5 (8) Oct 04, 2012
Oh, so does this mean that maybe ocean warming, caused by close contact of magma to the ocean bottom, might explain current global warming?


No, if you do the math yourself you'll find there are not enough volcanoes on Earth, neither on continents nor under the sea, to explain the ocean warming, never mind the annual net loss of global ice.

The article is misleading to the simple minded, because this is not a "missing" source of carbon, it always existed and was part of the "balanced" carbon cycle before it was discovered.
Lino235
2.2 / 5 (10) Oct 04, 2012
"No, if you do the math yourself you'll find there are not enough volcanoes on Earth, neither on continents nor under the sea, to explain the ocean warming, never mind the annual net loss of global ice.

Oh, but there are enough volcanoes. But I'm not talking just about volcanoes; I'm talking about an overall, upward encroachment of magma upon the earth's crust, and, in particular in ocean bottoms. Just 100 feet of upwards movement could easily raise the temperature at ocean bottom by 1 or 2 degrees. That's all that's needed to start releasing the stored CO2.

I have to admit that I'm surprised by this article; I thought it was already abundantly clear that CO2 can be stored for long periods of time. Another example of a climate model that has left out an important parameter. Meantime,............hysteria.
JoeBlue
1.5 / 5 (8) Oct 04, 2012
"While it is not clear if this release of ancient carbon is new or related to anthropogenic climate change, it supplies an additional source of carbon dioxide to the atmosphere," said McCallister.

This is the source of many issues right here. It's not the results of the studies, it's the way they present the evidence everytime. They always seem to promote that there is a case for AGW without them having actually made it yet.

This study is meaningless as long as there is hysteria driving the issue, and there is not a clear and Empirical process used to quantify the data in real terms to see what it means, and what effect creates it. As for the claim that bacteria is selectively processing New Carbon Dioxide over Old Carbon Dioxide, all Carbon has the same half-life. There is no difference between carbon atoms of the same ionic charge in the way they are handled by organic mechanisms. To further this, I doubt there is an abundance of Bacteria that is 1000-3000 years old.
Urgelt
4 / 5 (4) Oct 04, 2012
More denialist rubbish, making shit up on the fly.

JoeBlue, if you had a clue, you'd know they aren't talking about bacteria being 1000-3000 years old. But you don't have one.

Somehow, I doubt that this definition will make it into dictionaries:

Hysteria (n): irrational, exuberant mood attributed to scientists when their conclusions disagree with JoeBlue's evidence-free fantasies.
marble89
3.7 / 5 (6) Oct 04, 2012
You folks who claim that climate science is all a bunch of hogwash fascinate me from a psychological standpoint. You are always in the shadows. Who are you ? Where are you ? What are your other beliefs. Do you have jobs ?
Lino235
1 / 5 (3) Oct 05, 2012
Dear Marble:

How patronizing of you! Do your eyes get sunburned from looking down your nose so much?

The latest round of "global warming" began in the early 1800's. What started it? Can you answer that question?

Mendicar tried the canard of saying that manmade CO2 production was high even then. Not so. Not even one percent of what it is now. So what started it?

If you can answer that ONE question, then I'll start listening to whatever else you have to say. But this is how bad things are---this simple question cannot be, and has not been, answered. Which means those who espouse AGW haven't a clue.
Wolf358
not rated yet Oct 05, 2012
It seems as though there are two camps; those who accept that humanity has altered and befouled the environment and those who deny it. (Those who claim that nothing is happening I classify with the tinfoil-hat crowd). Either way, the environment _is_ changing, and what is important is what we can do to adapt to and possibly mitigate those changes.
marble89
1 / 5 (1) Oct 05, 2012
Lino235:

I have no dog in this fight so I'm not going to get dragged into it.

But your response implied that you think "climate science is a bunch of hogwash". ALL of climate science or just a particular subset of it?

ScooterG
1 / 5 (3) Oct 05, 2012
The article is misleading to the simple minded, because this is not a "missing" source of carbon, it always existed and was part of the "balanced" carbon cycle before it was discovered.


There is nothing misleading about this article.

McCallister is obviously a biased AGW diehard, so (in his view) anything/everything is about AGW. For this reason, not only should he not be taken seriously, his work should be dismissed entirely. The only purpose this study serves is to discredit the entire AGW industry, which I admit does have value.

His words: "While it is not clear if this release of ancient carbon is new or related to anthropogenic climate change, it supplies an additional source of carbon dioxide to the atmosphere," said McCallister.
ScooterG
1 / 5 (3) Oct 05, 2012
Either way, the environment _is_ changing, and what is important is what we can do to adapt to and possibly mitigate those changes.


Who says the environment is changing? And if it is changing, who is to say the changes will not be beneficial?
And for the love of Allah, please do not cite any study conducted by anyone who has a vested financial interest or who has indicated a prejudice.