Science 2 min read

Oxygen-Rich Bodies of Water Also Contribute to Global Methane Cycle

neenawat khenyothaa / Shutterstock.com

neenawat khenyothaa / Shutterstock.com

A new study challenges an old assessment that only oxygen-depleted bodies of water contribute to the current global methane cycle.

A recent study suggests that our understanding of the global methane cycle may not be entirely accurate.

Methane is the most note-worthy carbon-based greenhouse gas aside from carbon dioxide. And like CO2, the continuous increase of methane in the atmosphere is a global climate threat.

According to current research, including IPCC assessments, the gas is produced naturally in oxygen-depleted environments. These include swamps, lakes, and wetlands.

However, findings from a study at Swansea University have challenged these previous assessments.

In a statement about the project, Professor Kam Tang, of Swansea University’s Department of Biosciences said:

“Our research shows that well-oxygenated lake waters are an important, but long overlooked, source of methane emissions to the atmosphere.”

How did the researchers reach this conclusion?

Challenging the Current Global Methane Cycle

For the study, the Swansea University team analyzed a well-oxygenated lake in north-eastern Germany, Lake Stechlin. Despite the presence of oxygen, the researchers found that the lake produced a significant amount of methane.

The methane gas production occurs at the surface of the lake, in direct contact with air. As a result, the level of emissions that travel into the atmosphere becomes significant.

The size of surface waters plays an essential role in methane emission. In other words, the larger the lake, the more of the greenhouse gas it would release into the atmosphere.

According to the researchers, it could account for over 50 percent of surface methane emissions for lakes that are larger than one-kilometer square.

Tang noted:

“These novel findings open new avenues for methane research and support a more accurate global assessment of this powerful greenhouse gas.”

Methane emissions in the lake come from a complex blend of physical and biochemical processes that are not fully understood yet. However, the new study hopes to stimulate more research in the field and contribute to our understanding of the global methane cycle.

It would ultimately help improve climate change predictions.

Read More: How Bacteria Contribute More to Climate Change

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Sumbo Bello

Sumbo Bello is a creative writer who enjoys creating data-driven content for news sites. In his spare time, he plays basketball and listens to Coldplay.

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