Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Are Southeast Asian peatland rivers really a hotspot of CO2 emissions?

17.12.2015

Tropical peat swamps are among the most important terrestrial carbon storage ecosystems on earth. Because of its extensive peat swamps Southeast Asia is supposed to be a hotspot of CO2 emissions from rivers. For the first time, ZMT scientists and their partners have measured the CO2 emissions from Indonesian and Malaysian peat swamp rivers.

Tropical peat swamps are among the most important terrestrial carbon storage ecosystems on earth. A large part of these ecosystems are found in Indonesia and Malaysia. In these countries alone, more than 66 gigatonnes of carbon are stored in the peat swamps – an amount equivalent to eight times the annual global carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions from burning fossil fuels.


A peat swamp area on Sumatra

Tim Rixen, Leibniz Center for Tropical Marine Ecology


Extraction of sediment samples in the Siak River, Sumatra

Francisca Wit, Leibniz Center for Tropical Marine Ecology

However, the increasing deforestation of peat forests in Southeast Asia is putting these sensitive ecosystems under severe pressure: more and more carbon is being leached into the environment. Some of it enters rivers, where micro-organisms release the carbon from its organic compounds and partially convert it to CO2. This CO2 is outgassed from the water surface into the atmosphere where it contributes to global warming as a greenhouse gas.

Scientists of the Leibniz Center for Tropical Marine Ecology (ZMT) and the University of Hamburg have now for the first time measured CO2 emissions from Southeast Asian peatland rivers. The study, which the researchers conducted in cooperation with the Institute of Environmental Physics of the University of Bremen and partners in Indonesia and Malaysia, appeared this week in the prestigious scientific journal “Nature Communications”.

Due to its extensive peat swamps, Southeast Asia was long considered among researchers to be a hotspot of CO2 emissions from rivers – a speculative assumption due to the lack of emissions data from this region. To elucidate the role of Southeast Asian rivers in the carbon cycle, the ZMT researchers and their partners undertook several expeditions to Sumatra and Borneo. There for the first time, within the framework of a research project supported by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF), they measured CO2 outgassing from six different peat-draining rivers.

The scientists’ measurements showed that from the rivers under investigation, only a relatively moderate amount of CO2 was outgassed. About half of the carbon sequestered in the peat swamps was emitted into the atmosphere as CO2, the remaining part was transported to the ocean. While the investigated rivers and their catchments emit on average 25 g/m² of carbon per year, the Amazon Basin, in contrast, emits 120g/m² per year – a surprising finding which refutes the previous speculation that Southeast Asia is a hotspot of CO2 outgassing from rivers.

The primary reason for this is the short residence time of dissolved organic carbon (DOC) in the rivers. Most peat swamps are located near the coast, only a short distance from where the rivers flow into the ocean, so that the rivers can only briefly absorb the organic matter. On average, the DOC is only present in the rivers for ten days before it is flushed into the coastal ocean. Therefore, micro-organisms have little time to convert the dissolved organic carbon released from peat into CO2.

However, outgassing of CO2 from carbon can occur in the ocean, too. To which extent the CO2 is emitted into the atmosphere or remains in the ocean is still an unanswered question.

Publication:
Francisca Wit, Denise Müller, Antje Baum, Thorsten Warneke, Widodo Setiyo Pranowo, Moritz Müller and Tim Rixen (2015) The impact of disturbed peatlands on river outgassing in Southeast Asia. Nature Communications.

Contact:
Dr. Tim Rixen
Leibniz Center for Tropical Marine Ecology, Bremen
Tel: 0421 / 23800-55 oder 040 / 42838 7062
Mail: tim.rixen@zmt-bremen.de

About the Leibniz Center for Tropical Marine Ecology (ZMT):
Since 1991 the Leibniz Center for Tropical Marine Ecology (ZMT) has dedicated its research and training to the better understanding of coastal ecosystems in the tropics. The ZMT focuses on the structure and functioning of these habitats, their response to anthropogenic and natural influences and the use of resources. In close cooperation with partners in the tropics, the ZMT leads interdisciplinary projects combining natural and social sciences. Scientists at the ZMT also support the development of expertise and structures in its partner countries to allow for sustainable coastal zone management. In collaboration with the University of Bremen, Jacobs University and the University of Oldenburg the institute trains students and young scientists from all over the world in marine tropical ecology. More than 200 members of staff, students and guest researchers are currently working at the ZMT.

See also: http://www.leibniz-zmt.de

Dr. Susanne Eickhoff | Leibniz-Zentrum für Marine Tropenökologie (ZMT)

More articles from Earth Sciences:

nachricht The unintended consequences of dams and reservoirs
14.11.2018 | Uppsala University

nachricht Earth's magnetic field measured using artificial stars at 90 kilometers altitude
14.11.2018 | Johannes Gutenberg-Universität Mainz

All articles from Earth Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: A Chip with Blood Vessels

Biochips have been developed at TU Wien (Vienna), on which tissue can be produced and examined. This allows supplying the tissue with different substances in a very controlled way.

Cultivating human cells in the Petri dish is not a big challenge today. Producing artificial tissue, however, permeated by fine blood vessels, is a much more...

Im Focus: A Leap Into Quantum Technology

Faster and secure data communication: This is the goal of a new joint project involving physicists from the University of Würzburg. The German Federal Ministry of Education and Research funds the project with 14.8 million euro.

In our digital world data security and secure communication are becoming more and more important. Quantum communication is a promising approach to achieve...

Im Focus: Research icebreaker Polarstern begins the Antarctic season

What does it look like below the ice shelf of the calved massive iceberg A68?

On Saturday, 10 November 2018, the research icebreaker Polarstern will leave its homeport of Bremerhaven, bound for Cape Town, South Africa.

Im Focus: Penn engineers develop ultrathin, ultralight 'nanocardboard'

When choosing materials to make something, trade-offs need to be made between a host of properties, such as thickness, stiffness and weight. Depending on the application in question, finding just the right balance is the difference between success and failure

Now, a team of Penn Engineers has demonstrated a new material they call "nanocardboard," an ultrathin equivalent of corrugated paper cardboard. A square...

Im Focus: Coping with errors in the quantum age

Physicists at ETH Zurich demonstrate how errors that occur during the manipulation of quantum system can be monitored and corrected on the fly

The field of quantum computation has seen tremendous progress in recent years. Bit by bit, quantum devices start to challenge conventional computers, at least...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

“3rd Conference on Laser Polishing – LaP 2018” Attracts International Experts and Users

09.11.2018 | Event News

On the brain’s ability to find the right direction

06.11.2018 | Event News

European Space Talks: Weltraumschrott – eine Gefahr für die Gesellschaft?

23.10.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

Epoxy compound gets a graphene bump

14.11.2018 | Materials Sciences

Microgel powder fights infection and helps wounds heal

14.11.2018 | Health and Medicine

How algae and carbon fibers could sustainably reduce the athmospheric carbon dioxide concentration

14.11.2018 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>