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Rice agriculture accelerates global warming, new research finds
Date:10/25/2012

More carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, coupled with rising temperatures, is making rice agriculture a larger source of the potent greenhouse gas methane, according to a study published today in Nature Climate Change by a research team that includes a University of California, Davis, plant scientist.

The authors note that relatively simple changes in rice cultivation could help reduce methane emissions.

"Together, higher carbon dioxide concentrations and warmer temperatures predicted for the end of this century will about double the amount of methane emitted per kilo of rice produced," said Chris van Kessel, professor of plant sciences at UC Davis and co-author of the study, published in this week's edition of Nature Climate Change. "Because global demand for rice will increase further with a growing world population, our results suggest that without additional measures, the total methane emissions from rice agriculture will strongly increase."

Rice paddies are one of the largest man-made sources of methane, and rice is the world's second-most produced staple crop.

Van Kessel and his colleagues gathered findings from 63 different experiments on rice paddies, mostly in Asia and North America. They used a technique called meta-analysis, a statistical tool for finding general patterns in a large body of experimental published data.

The experiments measured how rising temperatures and extra carbon dioxide in the atmosphere affect both rice yields and the amount of methane released by rice paddies.

"Our results show that rice agriculture becomes less climate-friendly as our atmosphere continues to change," said Kees Jan van Groenigen, research fellow at Trinity College Dublin, and lead author of the study.

As more carbon dioxide enters the atmosphere, rice plants grow faster, the experimental data showed. This growth, in turn, pumps up the metabolism of methane-producing microscopic organi
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Contact: Chris van Kessel
cvankessel@ucdavis.edu
University of California - Davis
Source:Eurekalert

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