V. (2021). Spatiotemporal methane emission from global reservoirs

Johnson, M. S., E. Matthews, D. Bastviken, B. Deemer, J. Du, and V. Brooks-Genovese (2023), V. (2021). Spatiotemporal methane emission from global reservoirs, J. Geophys. Res., e2021JG006305, doi:10.1029/2021JG006305.

Inland aquatic systems, such as reservoirs, contribute substantially to global methane (CH4) emissions; yet are among the most uncertain components of the total CH4 budget. Reservoirs have received recent attention as they may generate high CH4 fluxes. Improved quantification of these CH4 fluxes, particularly their spatiotemporal distribution, is key to realistically incorporating them in CH4 modeling and budget studies. Here we report on a new global, gridded (0.25° lat × 0.25° lon) study of reservoir CH4 emissions, accounting for new knowledge regarding reservoir areal extent and distribution, and spatiotemporal emission patterns influenced by diurnal variability, temperature-dependent seasonality, satellite-derived freeze-thaw dynamics, and eco-climatic zone. The results of this new data set comprise daily CH4 emissions throughout the full annual cycle and show that reservoirs cover 297 × 103 km2 globally and emit 10.1 Tg CH4 yr−1 (1σ uncertainty range of 7.2–12.9 Tg CH4 yr−1) from diffusive (1.2 Tg CH4 yr−1) and ebullitive (8.9 Tg CH4 yr−1) emission pathways. This analysis of reservoir CH4 emission addresses multiple gaps and uncertainties in previous studies and represents an important contribution to studies of the global CH4 budget. The new data sets and methodologies from this study provide a framework to better understand and model the current and future role of reservoirs in the global CH4 budget and to guide efforts to mitigate reservoir-related CH4 emissions. Plain Language Summary Methane (CH4) is a greenhouse gas which contributes significantly to global warming and has atmospheric concentrations which have increased considerably in the last few decades, primarily due to human-induced emissions. Natural sources such as wetlands and inland aquatic systems (i.e., reservoirs, lakes, and rivers) contribute substantially to global emissions but these natural systems comprise the most uncertain components of the CH4 budget. This study addresses multiple gaps and uncertainties associated with global CH4 emissions from reservoirs and undertakes a spatial and temporal assessment of global reservoir emissions. The results from this study suggest that reservoirs occupy a global area about 300,000 km2 (comparable to the size of the country of Italy) and emit 10.1 Tg CH4 yr−1. We identify data and methodological elements of previous estimates that indicate they may overestimate these emissions. This work provides a suite of global data sets, gridded at 0.25° × 0.25°, considering reservoir surface area, spatial distribution, eco-climatic system type, and the full annual cycle of daily CH4 emissions.

PDF of Publication: 
Download from publisher's website.
Research Program: 
Terrestrial Hydrology Program (THP)
Interdisciplinary Science Program (IDS)
Atmospheric Composition
Carbon Cycle & Ecosystems Program (CCEP)
Funding Sources: 
M. Johnson, E. Matthews, and V. Genovese were funded for this work by NASA's Interdisciplinary Research in Earth Science (IDS) Program and the NASA Terrestrial Ecology and Tropospheric Composition Programs. D. Bastviken was funded by the European Research Council (ERC; grant agreement No 725546). J. Du was a collaborator on the IDS project which funded the majority of this work. B. Deemer's contribution to this study was through in-kind efforts.