Tuesday, December 3, 2013

New paper finds rivers and lakes are large net sources of CO2 to the atmosphere

A new paper published in Nature finds inland waters such as rivers and lakes are large annual net sources of CO2 to the atmosphere. The authors find inland waters contribute 2.1 Petagrams/yr of CO2 to the atmosphere, which is much larger than previously thought and equivalent to 35% of man-made CO2 emissions from burning fossil fuels of 6 Petagrams/yr.

According to the authors, "The source of inland water CO2 is still not known with certainty and new studies are needed to research the mechanisms controlling CO2 evasion globally." The paper adds to many other recent peer-reviewed publications finding prior assumptions of the global carbon cycle to be highly erroneous and natural net sources much higher than previously believed, thus net contributions of man-made CO2 emissions to atmospheric CO2 levels may be highly exaggerated.

Global carbon dioxide emissions from inland waters

Published online

Carbon dioxide (CO2) transfer from inland waters to the atmosphere, known as CO2 evasion, is a component of the global carbon cycle. Global estimates of CO2 evasion have been hampered, however, by the lack of a framework for estimating the inland water surface area and gas transfer velocity and by the absence of a global CO2 database. Here we report regional variations in global inland water surface area, dissolved CO2 and gas transfer velocity. We obtain global CO2 evasion rates of 1.8  petagrams of carbon (PgC) per year from streams and rivers and 0.32 PgCyr−1 from lakes and reservoirs, where the upper and lower limits are respectively the 5th and 95th confidence interval percentiles. The resulting global evasion rate of 2.1PgCyr−1 is higher than previous estimates owing to a larger stream and river evasion rate. Our analysis predicts global hotspots in stream and river evasion, with about 70 per cent of the flux occurring over just 20 per cent of the land surface. The source of inland water CO2 is still not known with certainty and new studies are needed to research the mechanisms controlling CO2 evasion globally.


  1. http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/12/131204112016.htm

  2. Another new paper finds more erroneous assumptions of the global carbon cycle


  3. http://www.terradaily.com/reports/Study_finds_rivers_and_streams_release_more_greenhouse_gas_than_all_lakes_999.html