Tuesday, 18 December 2012

Trees in tropical peat forests release more methane through their stems than is emitted from the soil surface

Sunitha Pangala, final year PhD student at The Open University’s Centre for Earth, Planetary Space and Astronomical Research,Walton Hall, United Kingdom under the guidance and supervision of Dr. Vincent Gauci has reported that Wetlands are the largest source of methane to the atmosphere, with tropical wetlands comprising the most significant global wetland source component. In their research study, they quantify in situ methane emissions from tree stems, peatland surfaces (ponded hollows and hummocks) and root-aerating pneumatophores in a tropical forested peatland in Southeast Asia.They observed that tree stems emit substantially more methane than peat surfaces, accounting for 62–87% of total ecosystem methane flux. Tree stem flux strength was controlled by the stem diameter, wood specific density and the amount of methane dissolved in pore water.
This finding is important as previously it was thought that methane was only emitted via diffusion and bubbles at the wetland surface and also this is the first study to measure methane release from tree stems in tropical peat swamps and evaluate its importance at an ecosystem level. This research paper has been published in the January issue of New Phytologists (Volume 197, Issue 2,)

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