February 28, 2007
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Global Climate Change Digest
A Guide to Information on Greenhouse Gases and Ozone Depletion
Published July 1988 through June 1999
FROM VOLUME 5, NUMBER 5, MAY 1992
THE METHANE BUDGET
"Importance of Methane-Oxidizing Bacteria in the Methane Budget as
Revealed by the Use of a Specific Inhibitor," R.S. Oremland (U.S. Geol.
Survey, 345 Middlefield Rd., Menlo Pk. CA 94025), C.W. Culbertson, Nature,
356(6368), 421-423, Apr. 2, 1992.
While much has been learned about the ecology of methane-generating
bacteria, ecological investigations of methane-oxidizing (methanotrophic)
bacteria have been hampered by the lack of a specific inhibitor for them. Using
methylfluoride as an inhibitor in field investigations showed that
methanotrophic bacteria can consume more than 90% of the methane potentially
Two items from J. Geophys. Res., 97(D4), Mar. 20, 1992:
"A Source Inventory for Atmospheric Methane in New Zealand and Its
Global Perspective," K.R. Lassey (Dept. Sci. Res., Nuclear Sci. Group, POB
31 312, Lower Hutt, New Zealand), D.C. Lowe, M.R. Manning, 3751-3765.
Estimates an aggregate source of 1.3-2.2 Tg/yr, nearly all caused by human
modification of the environment and dominated by methane from ruminant farmed
livestock. At about 0.3% of global emissions, New Zealand is a
disproportionately large source on a per capita or land area basis, or compared
to its share of CO2 emissions.
"Low Boreal Wetlands as a Source of Atmospheric Methane," N.T.
Roulet (Dept. Geog., York Univ., N. York, Ont. M3J 1P3, Can.), R. Ash, T.R.
A regional survey based on 24 sites in Ontario shows that the significant
emitters are beaver ponds, thicket swamps and bogs. Moisture saturation is a key
determinant of high emissions. Calculates that the low boreal region of Canada
contributes about 0.15 Tg/yr to the atmosphere, an order of magnitude lower than
the estimate of Aselmann and Crutzen (1989).
"Methane Transport and Oxidation in the Unsaturated Zone of a Sphagnum
Peatland," E.J. Fechner (Parsons Lab., 48-419, Mass. Inst. Technol.,
Cambridge MA 02139), H.F. Hemond, Global Biogeochem. Cycles, 6(1),
33-44, Mar. 1992. Demonstrates successful measurement of efflux and oxidation
rates using a gradient method which does not change in situ conditions.
"Atmospheric Methane and Sulphur Compounds at a Remote Central
Canadian Location," L. Barrie (Atmos. Environ. Service, 4905 Dufferin St.,
Downsview, Ont. M3H 5T4, Can.), B. Ahier et al., Atmos. Environ., 26A(5),
Summer and fall measurements were made to compare potentially biogenic
constituents in air from a boreal forest and wetland region to the north with
those in air from a polluted region to the south. Methane concentrations did not
differ, but variability was higher for the southern sector.
"Evaluation of a Closed-Chamber Method for Estimating Methane
Emissions from Aquatic Plants," A.K. Knapp (Div. Biol., Ackert Hall, Kansas
State Univ., Manhattan KS 66506), J.B. Yavitt, Tellus, 44B(1),
63-71, Feb. 1992.
Monitoring of environmental and plant physiologic responses to closed
chambers indicates that only very short enclosure times should be used with
closed chambers when measuring methane emissions.
Two items from Appl. Energy, 41(2), 1992:
"Methane: A Greenhouse Gas in the Earth's Atmosphere," O. Badr
(Dept. Appl. Energy, Cranfield Inst. Technol., Bedford MK43 0AL, UK), S.D.
Probert, P.W. O'Callaghan, 95-113. Gives a history of methane in the Earth's
atmosphere, together with its distribution over latitude, altitude and the
"Sinks for Atmospheric Methane," O. Badr (address above), S.D.
Probert, P.W. O'Callaghan, 137-147. Characterizes sinks and their estimated
strengths; discusses the role of methane in atmospheric chemistry.
"Origins of Atmospheric Methane," O. Badr (address above), S.D.
Probert, P.W. O'Callaghan, ibid., 40(3), 189-231, 1991.
Identifies the individual sources of methane and available emission rates.
About 80% of methane is produced biologically, while 50% of the present sources
are anthropogenic. Measurements are needed to further refine poor emission
"Tropical Wetland Sources," F.A. Street-Perrott (Environ. Change
Unit, Univ. Oxford, Mansfield Rd., Oxford OX1 3TB), Nature, 355 (6355),
23-24, Jan. 2, 1992. Discusses a recent paper by Petit-Maire et al. (Paleogeogr.,
Palaeoclimat. Palaeoecol., 86, 197-204, 1991), which suggests that
tropical wetlands have been the leading influence on variations of atmospheric
methane over the past 160,000 years.
"Methane Flux to the Atmosphere from the Arabian Sea," N.J.P.
Owens (Plymouth Marine Lab., Prospect Pl., The Hoe, Plymouth PL1 3DH, UK), C.S.
Law et al., Nature, 354(6351), 293-296, Nov. 28, 1991.
Reports high concentrations of methane in the Arabian Sea, and calculates
that the flux to the atmosphere is up to five times greater than the previously
reported ocean average. High production is associated with monsoon-driven
phytoplankton upwelling, suggesting that this region may have a great potential
for feedback response under climate change.
Two items from Global Biogeochem. Cycles, 5(4), Dec.
"Seasonal Patterns of Methane Uptake and Carbon Dioxide Release by a
Temperate Woodland Soil," P.M. Crill (Inst. Study of Earth, Univ. New
Hampshire, Durham NH 03824), 319-334.
In a drained upland, mixed hardwood forest, methane was always taken up by
soil after spring thaw. There was a negative correlation between soil methane
and CO2 concentrations. Methane uptake was related to biological activity in a
complicated manner depending on the season.
"Methane Emission from Rice Fields as Influenced by Solar Radiation,
Temperature and Straw Incorporation," R.L. Sass (Dept. Ecol., Rice Univ.,
Houston TX 77251), F.M. Fisher et al., 335-350.
Texas rice fields were planted on different dates, with grass straw
incorporated into half of each field. Methane emission rates varied markedly
with planting date and straw addition. Highest rates were found in the
earliest-planted, straw-supplemented field.
Two items from ibid., 5(3), Sept. 1991:
"Mitigation of Methane Emissions from Rice Fields: Possible Adverse
Effects of Incorporated Rice Straw," R.L. Sass (addr. above), F.M. Fisher
et al., 275-288.
Data from a two-year study on different soil types suggest that minimizing
incorporation of crop residue prior to planting can decrease methane emission
from flooded rice and reduce the potential for yield loss, particularly in soils
with low rates of seepage and percolation.
"Methane Consumption and Emission by Taiga," S.C. Whalen, W.S.
Reeburgh (Inst. Marine Sci., Univ. Alaska, Fairbanks AK 99775), K.S. Kizer,
A one-year study of fluxes at a range of representative floodplain and
upland taiga sites show that soil consumption of atmospheric methane is the
dominant process. Results suggest upland and floodplain taiga soils are a
methane sink of up to 0.8 Tg/yr; point-source bogs and fens are the only
important emitting sites in taiga.
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