Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Researchers find higher than expected carbon emissions from inland waterways

25.05.2016

Work has implications for global carbon budget

Washington State University researchers have found that greenhouse-gas emissions from lakes and inland waterways may be as much as 45 percent greater than previously thought.


Solar-powered device takes measurements over Mississippi's Ross Barnett Reservoir.

Credit: Washington State University

Their study, published today in Environmental Research Letters, has implications for the global carbon budget and suggests that terrestrial ecosystems may not be as good a carbon reservoir as scientists thought.

Similar to the way people use a budget to manage finances, researchers are working to understand where carbon is being spent and saved on a global scale to better manage resources. The scientists know that humans are emitting about 33 billion tons of carbon dioxide per year into the atmosphere globally and that the emissions are changing the climate. About half of the emissions stay in the atmosphere, but researchers are unable to quantify with certainty how much carbon is taken up by land and oceans.

"People can't figure out how to close the budget with great confidence,'' said Heping Liu, associate professor in the WSU Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering. "That's the big mystery.''

A significant part of the carbon dioxide initially sequestered by terrestrial ecosystems moves into inland waters and is then released to the atmosphere. Scientists previously have made only occasional measurements of emissions from waterways - most often during calm, daytime conditions - and have used these measurements to make broad estimates for waterways' contribution to regional or global emissions. They missed nighttime emissions and periods between field samplings.

In the study, the WSU team took a yearlong series of continuous measurements of carbon dioxide emissions, gathering data from atmospheric instruments on a platform over the water in Mississippi's Ross Barnett Reservoir. The researchers used a sophisticated system that measures atmospheric eddies, called an eddy covariance system. It was powered by solar panels and batteries.

The WSU team found that nighttime carbon emissions were as much as 70 percent higher than during the day and that storms also created emissions spikes.

"That's pretty huge,'' said Liu. "Based on this study, the emissions from inland waterways are much larger than previously thought.''

The researchers surmise that during the day, when air temperatures are warm, water layers in the reservoir are stratified and carbon dioxide from microbes in the lake bottom cannot escape. Colder nighttime temperatures allow for mixing of the water and for higher emission rates. Wind from storms also creates mixing and an opportunity for carbon dioxide to escape.

Liu and his colleagues believe that the Mississippi reservoir is not unusual and that the higher emission rates apply to waterways around the world. Other researchers have seen similar higher nighttime emissions, but had not connected the measurements to a higher overall emissions rate in the global carbon budget.

###

In addition to WSU, the research group includes scientists from Duke University, the Cary Institute of Ecosystem Studies, University of Alaska, Fairbanks, and University of California, Santa Barbara.

Media Contact

Heping Liu
heping.liu@wsu.edu
509-335-1529

 @WSUNews

http://www.wsu.edu 

Heping Liu | EurekAlert!

More articles from Earth Sciences:

nachricht Research sheds new light on forces that threaten sensitive coastlines
24.04.2017 | Indiana University

nachricht NASA sees the end of ex-Tropical Cyclone 02W
21.04.2017 | NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center

All articles from Earth Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Making lightweight construction suitable for series production

More and more automobile companies are focusing on body parts made of carbon fiber reinforced plastics (CFRP). However, manufacturing and repair costs must be further reduced in order to make CFRP more economical in use. Together with the Volkswagen AG and five other partners in the project HolQueSt 3D, the Laser Zentrum Hannover e.V. (LZH) has developed laser processes for the automatic trimming, drilling and repair of three-dimensional components.

Automated manufacturing processes are the basis for ultimately establishing the series production of CFRP components. In the project HolQueSt 3D, the LZH has...

Im Focus: Wonder material? Novel nanotube structure strengthens thin films for flexible electronics

Reflecting the structure of composites found in nature and the ancient world, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have synthesized thin carbon nanotube (CNT) textiles that exhibit both high electrical conductivity and a level of toughness that is about fifty times higher than copper films, currently used in electronics.

"The structural robustness of thin metal films has significant importance for the reliable operation of smart skin and flexible electronics including...

Im Focus: Deep inside Galaxy M87

The nearby, giant radio galaxy M87 hosts a supermassive black hole (BH) and is well-known for its bright jet dominating the spectrum over ten orders of magnitude in frequency. Due to its proximity, jet prominence, and the large black hole mass, M87 is the best laboratory for investigating the formation, acceleration, and collimation of relativistic jets. A research team led by Silke Britzen from the Max Planck Institute for Radio Astronomy in Bonn, Germany, has found strong indication for turbulent processes connecting the accretion disk and the jet of that galaxy providing insights into the longstanding problem of the origin of astrophysical jets.

Supermassive black holes form some of the most enigmatic phenomena in astrophysics. Their enormous energy output is supposed to be generated by the...

Im Focus: A Quantum Low Pass for Photons

Physicists in Garching observe novel quantum effect that limits the number of emitted photons.

The probability to find a certain number of photons inside a laser pulse usually corresponds to a classical distribution of independent events, the so-called...

Im Focus: Microprocessors based on a layer of just three atoms

Microprocessors based on atomically thin materials hold the promise of the evolution of traditional processors as well as new applications in the field of flexible electronics. Now, a TU Wien research team led by Thomas Müller has made a breakthrough in this field as part of an ongoing research project.

Two-dimensional materials, or 2D materials for short, are extremely versatile, although – or often more precisely because – they are made up of just one or a...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Expert meeting “Health Business Connect” will connect international medical technology companies

20.04.2017 | Event News

Wenn der Computer das Gehirn austrickst

18.04.2017 | Event News

7th International Conference on Crystalline Silicon Photovoltaics in Freiburg on April 3-5, 2017

03.04.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

DGIST develops 20 times faster biosensor

24.04.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

Nanoimprinted hyperlens array: Paving the way for practical super-resolution imaging

24.04.2017 | Materials Sciences

Atomic-level motion may drive bacteria's ability to evade immune system defenses

24.04.2017 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>