Phenology is the dominant control of methane emissions in a tropical non-forested wetland

Carole Helfter, Mangaliso Gondwe, Michael Murray-hudson, Anastacia Makati, Mark F. Lunt, Paul I. Palmer, Ute Skiba

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Tropical wetlands are a significant source of atmospheric methane (CH4), but their importance to the global CH4 budget is uncertain due to a paucity of direct observations. Net wetland emissions result from complex interactions and co-variation between microbial production and oxidation in the soil, and transport to the atmosphere. Here we show that phenology is the overarching control of net CH4 emissions to the atmosphere from a permanent, vegetated tropical swamp in the Okavango Delta, Botswana, and we find that vegetative processes modulate net CH4 emissions at sub-daily to inter-annual timescales. Without considering the role played by papyrus on regulating the efflux of CH4 to the atmosphere, the annual budget for the entire Okavango Delta, would be under- or over-estimated by a factor of two. Our measurements demonstrate the importance of including vegetative processes such as phenological cycles into wetlands emission budgets of CH4.
Original languageEnglish
Article number133
JournalNature Communications
Volume13
Issue number1
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 10 Jan 2022

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