NCEAS Product 23853

Bastviken, David; Tranvik, Lars J.; Downing, John A.; Crill, Patrick; Enrich-Prast, Alex. 2011. Freshwater methane emissions offset the continental carbon sink. Science. Vol: 331. Pages 50. (Abstract) (Online version)


Inland waters (lakes, reservoirs, streams, and rivers) are often substantial methane (CH4) sources in the terrestrial landscape. They are, however, not yet well integrated in global greenhouse gas (GHG) budgets. Data from 474 freshwater ecosystems and the most recent global water area estimates indicate that freshwaters emit at least 103 teragrams of CH4 year−1, corresponding to 0.65 petagrams of C as carbon dioxide (CO2) equivalents year−1, offsetting 25% of the estimated land carbon sink. Thus, the continental GHG sink may be considerably overestimated, and freshwaters need to be recognized as important in the global carbon cycle.