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Methane GHG "Feedback Loop" Discovered in Freshwater Lakes (R&D)
Cambridge University
Date: 2018-05-07
A new Cambridge University study of chemical reactions that occur when organic matter decomposes in freshwater reports that the debris from trees suppresses production of the greenhouse gas methane while debris from plants found in reed beds actually promotes methane. The report notes that the constantly evolving lakes of the northern hemisphere -- already a major source of methane -- could almost double their emissions in the next fifty years.

The report findings suggest the discovery of yet another “feedback loop” in which environmental disruption and climate change trigger the release of ever more greenhouse gas that further warms the planet, similar to the concerns over the methane released by fast-melting arctic permafrost. The report also finds up to 77 pct of the methane emissions from an individual lake are the result of the organic matter shed primarily by plants that grow in or near the water. This matter gets buried in the sediment found toward the edge of lakes, where it is consumed by communities of microbes. Methane gets generated as a byproduct, which then bubbles up to the surface.

The study, funded by the UK Natural Environment Research Council, is published in the journal Nature Communications. (Source: Cambridge Univ., Eurasia Review , 6 May, 2018) Contact: Cambridge Univ., Dr. Andrew Tanentzap Department of Plant Sciences. +44 1223 333900, www.plantsci.cam.ac.uk

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