Earth's lakes emit less methane than previously thought

Earth's lakes emit less methane than previously thought
(a) Lake area density (% of grid cell area) and (b) ecoclimatic lake type classification. White space indicates grids with no lakes present. Credit: Journal of Geophysical Research: Biogeosciences (2022). DOI: 10.1029/2022JG006793

Methane is well known as a potent greenhouse gas that is emitted into the atmosphere by human activity and contributes significantly to global warming.

Methane can also be released by natural processes, including those in lakes, wetlands, and rivers. In lakes, the gas may diffuse from the water or bubble up from lake bed sediments. Previous research has produced widely varying estimates of the total amount of released by lakes worldwide.

Now, Johnson et al. provide an updated estimate of lakes' . They compiled and analyzed new and updated data on a variety of factors, including lake area, temperature-related seasonal variations in methane release, satellite-derived information on how long lakes remain iced over each year, and variations in between lakes in different regions with different climates and ecology.

The researchers found that lakes release a total of about 42 million tons of methane into the atmosphere per year. This new estimate is lower than previous estimates.

The new research involved the creation of high-resolution data sets that could aid a wide range of investigations into Earth's methane cycle, computational climate models, and more. According to the authors, future research could also address the difficulty of distinguishing lakes from other aquatic features (such as wetlands and reservoirs), the challenges in directly measuring methane fluxes from lakes, and a shortage of detailed studies of tropical lakes.

More information: Matthew S. Johnson et al, Methane Emission From Global Lakes: New Spatiotemporal Data and Observation‐Driven Modeling of Methane Dynamics Indicates Lower Emissions, Journal of Geophysical Research: Biogeosciences (2022). DOI: 10.1029/2022JG006793

This story is republished courtesy of Eos, hosted by the American Geophysical Union. Read the original storyhere.

Citation: Earth's lakes emit less methane than previously thought (2022, August 5) retrieved 4 December 2023 from
This document is subject to copyright. Apart from any fair dealing for the purpose of private study or research, no part may be reproduced without the written permission. The content is provided for information purposes only.

Explore further

Reduction of methane emissions from lakes possible with new approach


Feedback to editors