How do ponds fit into the global warming equation?

New study shows warmup will boost methane releases

sdf
Small ponds will speed up climate change as they warm up. @bberwyn photo.

Staff Report

Small ponds could end up having a huge impact on Earth’s climate as they warm up due to heat-trapping greenhouse gas pollution, according to scientists from the University of Exeter and Queen Mary University of London. The researchers experimentally warmed a number small ponds by about 4-5 degrees Celsius over the course of seven years to study the effects of increased temperatures.

They found that warming water will accelerate climate change by reducing the amount of carbon dioxide stored in ponds and increasing releases of methane. Changes observed after the first year became “amplified” over a longer period, according to the study by the University of Exeter and Queen Mary University of London

After seven years, a pond’s ability to absorb carbon dioxide was reduced by almost half, while methane release almost doubled.

Lakes and ponds cover about 4 percent of Earth’s surface (excluding areas covered by glaciers and ice sheets) but they are disproportionately large sources of methane and CO2 to the atmosphere. According to the study, ponds smaller than one square meter are responsible for releasing about 40 percent of all methane emissions from inland waters.

“This is the first experiment to investigate the long-term effects of warming in aquatic ecosystems,” said lead author Professor Gabriel Yvon-Durocher, of the Environment and Sustainability Institute on the University of Exeter’s Penryn Campus in Cornwall.

“Given the substantial contribution small ponds make to the emission of greenhouse gases, it is vital to understand how they might respond to global warming. “Our findings show that warming can fundamentally alter the carbon balance of small ponds over a number of years, reducing their capacity to absorb carbon dioxide and increasing emissions of methane.

“The amplified effects of experimental warming we have observed in ponds are different to those we typically see on land, where large initial effects of warming appear to diminish over the long term,” Professor Yvon-Durocher said.

“This accelerating effect in ponds, which could have serious impacts on climate change, is not currently accounted for in Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change models.”

Advertisements

One thought on “How do ponds fit into the global warming equation?

  1. I wonder what happens long-term. The methane is from the algae and also from decaying plant materials. Would that have an end point? 7 years is probably not endpoint.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s