Navigation Links
Rivers are carbon processors, not inert pipelines
Date:12/1/2008

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
tom.battin@univie.ac.at
43-142-775-4350
European Science Foundation
Source:Eurekalert

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:
*Name:
*Comment:
*Email:
(Date:2/28/2017)... -- News solutions for biometrics, bag drop and New ... At ... 16 March, Materna will present its complete end-to-end passenger journey, ... a real benefit for passengers. To accelerate the whole passenger ... point solutions to take passengers through the complete integrated process ...
(Date:2/27/2017)... , Feb. 27, 2017   Strategic Cyber Ventures ... it has led a $3.5 million investment in  Polarity ... Strategic Cyber Ventures is DC based and is led ... Hank Thomas . Ron Gula , also a ... also participated in this series A round of funding. ...
(Date:2/24/2017)... Spain , Feb. 24, 2017  EyeLock LLC, a ... demonstrate its elite iris biometric solution on the ... X16 LTE at Mobile World Congress 2017 ... Qualcomm,s Booth in Hall 3, Stand 3E10. ... the Qualcomm Haven™ security platform—a combination of ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:3/27/2017)... March 27, 2017  Perthera,s Chief Bioinformatics Officer and ... Subha Madhavan , Ph.D., will be speaking at the ... On Monday, March 27, 2017, she will be speaking ... Usable for Research and Care" (from 10:30 a.m. – ... she will be a participant in the "Making Precision ...
(Date:3/27/2017)... March 27, 2017  Trovagene, Inc. (NASDAQ: TROV), a ... Executive Officer, Bill Welch , will be presenting ... at 9:00 AM EDT at the Essex House in ... and Chief Scientific Officer, Mark Erlander , Ph.D., ... the conference.   The presentation will be webcast ...
(Date:3/24/2017)... MOSCOW and ROCKVILLE, Md. ... portfolio company of Maxwell Biotech Venture Fund (MBVF), today ... of SQ109 added to the standard drug therapy regimen ... a new small molecule drug discovered by scientists at ... US National Institutes of Health. A ...
(Date:3/24/2017)... WESTLAKE VILLAGE, Calif. , March 24, 2017 /PRNewswire/ ... medical dermatology and aesthetics company, today announced that ... Financial Officer, effective March 24.   Peterson, who ... will succeed John Smither , who is retiring ... serve Sienna in an advisory capacity. Peterson joins Sienna ...
Breaking Biology Technology: