Navigation Links
Rivers are carbon processors, not inert pipelines

Microorganisms in rivers and streams play a crucial role in the global carbon cycle that has not previously been considered. Freshwater ecologist Dr. Tom Battin, of the University of Vienna, told a COST ESF Frontiers of Science conference in October that our understanding of how rivers and streams deal with organic carbon has changed radically.

Microorganisms such as bacteria and single celled algae in rivers and streams decompose organic matter as it flows downstream. They convert the carbon it contains into carbon dioxide, which is then released to the atmosphere.

Recent estimates by Battin's team and others conclude there is a net flux, or outgassing, of carbon dioxide from the world's rivers and streams to the atmosphere of at least two-thirds to three-quarters of a gigatonne (Gt) of carbon per year. This flux has not been taken into account in the models of the global carbon cycle used to predict climate change.

"Surface water drainage networks perfuse and integrate the landscape, across the whole planet," says Battin, "but they are missing from all global carbon cycling, even from the IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) reports. Rivers are just considered as inert pipelines, receiving organic carbon from Earth and transporting it to the ocean." This thinking, according to Battin, has changed radically in last few years.

He argues that the latest estimates of how much carbon is transferred to the atmosphere from rivers and streams are very conservative. "The actual outgassing of carbon dioxide is probably closer to 2 Gt of carbon per year," says Battin. "Our surface area estimates only consider larger streams and rivers, because it is very hard to estimate accurately the surface area of small streams. So small streams are excluded, although in terms of microbial activity, they are the most reactive in the network."

Two gigatonnes of carbon per year is close to half the estimated net primary production of the world's vegetation each year. Realising that this quantity of carbon may be delivered straight back to the atmosphere, rather than being taken to the ocean where some of it is removed by marine organisms and ends up in sediment, could have profound consequences for our understanding of the system.

In a disturbing development, Battin's team lab has recently found that engineered nanoparticles can significantly compromise the freshwater microbes involved in carbon cycling. "This finding is a real challenge to science," says Battin. "Engineered nanoparticles such as titanium dioxide are expected to increase in the environment, but it remains completely unknown how they might affect the functioning of ecosystems."


Contact: Tom Battin
European Science Foundation

Related biology news :

1. UC Riverside biologist receives prestigious MacArthur Fellowship
2. UC-Riverside partners with Chinese university to address Chinas environmental problems
3. Scientists from the UGR prove that rivers do not act as barriers for groundwater flow
4. Chemicals used as fire retardants could be harmful, UC-Riverside researchers say
5. Studying rivers for clues to global carbon cycle
6. Healthy rivers needed to remove nitrogen
7. ORNL study finds rivers play part in removing nitrogen
8. UC Riverside to host conference on stricter air quality standards for Southern California
9. UC Riverside bioengineer receives high honor from chemical engineers
10. The drivers of tropical deforestation are changing, say scientists
11. Tahitian vanilla originated in Maya forests, says UC Riverside botanist
Post Your Comments:
(Date:10/4/2017)... a global clinical research organization (CRO), announces the launch of Shadow, ... 2017. Shadow is designed to assist medical writers and biometrics teams ... European Medicines Agency (EMA) in meeting the requirements for de-identifying clinical ... ... Tom ...
(Date:6/23/2017)... N.Y. and ITHACA, N.Y. ... ) and Cornell University, a leader in dairy research, ... with bioinformatics designed to help reduce the chances that ... With the onset of this dairy project, Cornell University ... Consortium for Sequencing the Food Supply Chain, a food ...
(Date:5/6/2017)... RAM Group , Singaporean based ... in biometric authentication based on a novel  ... to perform biometric authentication. These new sensors are based on ... Ram Group and its partners. This sensor will have ... and security. Ram Group is a next generation ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:10/11/2017)... ... October 11, 2017 , ... The CRISPR-Cas9 system ... experiments and avoiding the use of exogenous expression plasmids. The simplicity of programming ... systematic gain-of-function studies. , This complement to loss-of-function studies, such as with ...
(Date:10/11/2017)... , Oct. 11, 2017  VMS BioMarketing, a leading provider ... nationwide oncology Clinical Nurse Educator (CNE) network, which will launch ... for communication among health care professionals to enhance the patient ... office staff, and other health care professionals to help women ... cancer. ...
(Date:10/11/2017)... ... October 11, 2017 , ... Singh ... orphan drug designation to SBT-100, its novel anti-STAT3 (Signal Transducer and Activator of ... SBT-100 is able to cross the cell membrane and bind intracellular STAT3 and ...
(Date:10/10/2017)... (PRWEB) , ... October 10, 2017 , ... Dr. Bob ... at his local San Diego Rotary Club. The event entitled “Stem ... CA and had 300+ attendees. Dr. Harman, DVM, MPVM was joined by two ...
Breaking Biology Technology: