Published In

Geophysical Research Letters

Document Type


Publication Date



Atmospheric methane, Methane -- Environmental aspects, Greenhouse gases, Trees -- Environmental aspects


Recent studies indicate that plants may be a previously overlooked but significant source of atmospheric CH₄, though there is considerable disagreement on the mechanism of production. Our work sought to verify that woody deciduous trees grown under inundated conditions had the capacity for transporting CH₄ from an anaerobic subsurface to the atmosphere and to consider if such a source could be important globally. Here, we report results from a greenhouse mesocosm study that indicate significant emissions of anaerobically produced CH₄ transmitted to the atmosphere through broadleaf riparian tree species grown under flooded conditions. Using a leaf area normalized mean emission rate (0.7 ± 0.3 μg cm⁻² hr⁻¹), results were scaled globally for flooded forest regions and estimated to be 60 ± 20 Tg year⁻¹, ~10% of the global CH₄ source. The carbon isotopic composition of CH4 emitted was found to be significantly enriched compared with expectations (δ13C ~ −54‰) and provided an important isotopic constraint on the global source which coincides with the mean of the globally scaled greenhouse-based estimate.


Copyright 2010 by the American Geophysical Union



Persistent Identifier

Included in

Physics Commons