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Ponds found to take up carbon like world's oceans
Date:5/7/2008

AMES, Iowa -- Research led by Iowa State University limnologist, or lake scientist, John Downing finds that ponds around the globe could absorb as much carbon as the world's oceans.

Professor Downing found that constructed ponds and lakes on farmland in the United States bury carbon at a much higher rate than expected; as much as 20-50 times the rate at which trees trap carbon. In addition, ponds were found to take up carbon at a higher rate than larger lakes.

"Aquatic ecosystems play a disproportionately large role in the global carbon budget," Downing said. "Despite being overlooked in the past, it's small bodies of water that are important because they take up carbon at a high rate and there are more of them than previously thought. The combined effect is that farm ponds could be burying as much carbon as the world's oceans, each year."

Ponds capture carbon in two main ways:

The research estimated there are 304 million natural lakes and ponds in the world, covering an area of 4.2 million square kilometers, twice the area previously thought. As many as 90 percent of these water bodies are one hectare (two acres) or less in area.

Downing's research team published its most recent findings in the Feb. 15 issue of the journal Global Biogeochemical Cycles in a paper titled, "Sediment organic carbon burial in agriculturally eutrophic impoundments over the last century." The team included members from Europe, the United States and Canada. The work was sponsored by the National Center for Ecological Analysis and Synthesis and the Iowa Department of Natural Resources.

Downing has presented invited seminars on this research to the International Society of Limnology, the American Society of Limnology and Oceanography, and at several major research institutions in North America and Europe. Most recently, he was invited to discuss his research by the Pond Conservation, a charity in the United Kingdom dedicated to crea
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Contact: John Downing
downing@iastate.edu
Iowa State University
Source:Eurekalert

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