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Modeling modern methane emissions from natural wetlands 1. Model description and results


Heimann,  M.
Department Biogeochemical Systems, Prof. M. Heimann, Max Planck Institute for Biogeochemistry, Max Planck Society;

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Walter, B. P., Heimann, M., & Matthews, E. (2001). Modeling modern methane emissions from natural wetlands 1. Model description and results. Journal of Geophysical Research - Atmospheres, 106(24), 34189-34206.

Methane is an important greenhouse gas which contributes about 22% to the present greenhouse effect. Natural wetlands currently constitute the biggest methane source and were the major source in preindustrial times. Wetland emissions depend highly on the climate, i.e., on soil temperature and water table. To investigate the response of methane emissions from natural wetlands to climate variations, a process-based model that derives methane emissions from natural wetlands as a function of soil temperature, water table, and net primary productivity is used. For its application on the global scale, global data sets for all model parameters are generated. In addition, a simple hydrologic model is developed in order to simulate the position of the water table in wetlands. The hydrologic model is tested against data from different wetland sites, and the sensitivity of the hydrologie model to changes in precipitation is examined. The global methane-hydrology model constitutes a tool to study temporal and spatial variations in methane emissions from natural wetlands. The model is applied using high-frequency atmospheric forcing fields from ECMWF reanalyses of the period from 1982 to 1993. We calculate global annual methane emissions from wetlands to be 260 Tg yr−1. Twenty-five percent of these methane emissions originate from wetlands north of 30°N. Only 60% of the produced methane is emitted, while the rest is reoxidized. A comparison of zonal integrals of simulated global wetland emissions and results obtained by an inverse modeling approach shows good agreement. In a test with data from two wetlands the seasonally of simulated and observed methane emissions agrees well.