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Research article - Peer-reviewed, 2021

Substantial hysteresis in emergent temperature sensitivity of global wetland CH4 emissions

Chang, Kuang-Yu; Riley, William J.; Knox, Sara H.; Jackson, Robert B.; McNicol, Gavin; Poulter, Benjamin; Aurela, Mika; Baldocchi, Dennis; Bansal, Sheel; Bohrer, Gil; Campbell, David, I; Cescatti, Alessandro; Chu, Housen; Delwiche, Kyle B.; Desai, Ankur R.; Euskirchen, Eugenie; Friborg, Thomas; Goeckede, Mathias; Helbig, Manuel; Hemes, Kyle S.;
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Wetland methane (CH4) emissions (FCH4) are important in global carbon budgets and climate change assessments. Currently, FCH4 projections rely on prescribed static temperature sensitivity that varies among biogeochemical models. Meta-analyses have proposed a consistent FCH4 temperature dependence across spatial scales for use in models; however, site-level studies demonstrate that FCH4 are often controlled by factors beyond temperature. Here, we evaluate the relationship between FCH4 and temperature using observations from the FLUXNET-CH4 database. Measurements collected across the globe show substantial seasonal hysteresis between FCH4 and temperature, suggesting larger FCH4 sensitivity to temperature later in the frost-free season (about 77% of site-years). Results derived from a machine-learning model and several regression models highlight the importance of representing the large spatial and temporal variability within site-years and ecosystem types. Mechanistic advancements in biogeochemical model parameterization and detailed measurements in factors modulating CH4 production are thus needed to improve global CH4 budget assessments. Wetland methane emissions contribute to global warming, and are oversimplified in climate models. Here the authors use eddy covariance measurements from 48 global sites to demonstrate seasonal hysteresis in methane-temperature relationships and suggest the importance of microbial processes.

Published in

Nature Communications
2021, volume: 12, number: 1, article number: 2266

Authors' information

Chang, Kuang-Yu
United States Department of Energy (DOE)
Riley, William J.
United States Department of Energy (DOE)
Knox, Sara H.
University of British Columbia
Jackson, Robert B.
Stanford University
McNicol, Gavin
Stanford University
Poulter, Benjamin
National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA)
Aurela, Mika
Finnish Meteorological Institute
Baldocchi, Dennis
University of California Berkeley
Bansal, Sheel
United States Geological Survey
Bohrer, Gil
Ohio State University
Campbell, David
University of Waikato
Cescatti, Alessandro
European Commission Joint Research Centre
Chu, Housen
United States Department of Energy (DOE)
Delwiche, Kyle B.
Stanford University
Desai, Ankur R.
University of Wisconsin Madison
Euskirchen, Eugenie
University of Alaska Fairbanks
Friborg, Thomas
University of Copenhagen
Goeckede, Mathias
Max Planck Society
Helbig, Manuel
McMaster University
Hemes, Kyle S.
Stanford University
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UKÄ Subject classification

Environmental Sciences

Publication Identifiers


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