Declines in methane uptake in forest soils

TitleDeclines in methane uptake in forest soils
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2018
AuthorsNi, X, Groffman, PM
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences
Pagination8587 - 8590
Date Published2018/08/21/
ISBN Number0027-8424, 1091-6490
Keywordsgreenhouse gases, hydrological flux, increased precipitation, long-term ecological research sites, soil methane uptake

Forest soils are a sink for atmospheric methane (CH4) and play an important role in modulating the global CH4 budget. However, whether CH4 uptake by forest soils is affected by global environmental change is unknown. We measured soil to atmosphere net CH4 fluxes in temperate forests at two long-term ecological research sites in the northeastern United States from the late 1990s to the mid-2010s. We found that annual soil CH4 uptake decreased by 62% and 53% in urban and rural forests in Baltimore, Maryland and by 74% and 89% in calcium-fertilized and reference forests at Hubbard Brook, New Hampshire over this period. This decrease occurred despite marked declines in nitrogen deposition and increases in atmospheric CH4 concentration and temperature, which should lead to increases in CH4 uptake. This decrease in soil CH4 uptake appears to be driven by increases in precipitation and soil hydrological flux. Furthermore, an analysis of CH4 uptake around the globe showed that CH4 uptake in forest soils has decreased by an average of 77% from 1988 to 2015, particularly in forests located from 0 to 60 °N latitude where precipitation has been increasing. We conclude that the soil CH4 sink may be declining and overestimated in several regions across the globe.





Short TitlePNAS