Journal of Geophysical Research: Atmospheres

Role of the Hudson Bay lowland as a source of atmospheric methane

Authors

  • Nigel T. Roulet,

  • A. Jano,

  • C. A. Kelly,

  • L. F. Klinger,

  • T. R. Moore,

  • R. Protz,

  • J. A. Ritter,

  • W. R. Rouse


Abstract

Based on point measurements of methane flux from wetlands in the boreal and subarctic regions, northern wetlands are a major source of atmospheric methane. However, measurements have not been carried out in large continuous peatlands such as the the Hudson Bay Lowland (HBL) (320,000 km2) and the Western Siberian lowland (540,000 km2), which together account for over 30% of-the wetlands north of 40°N. To determine the role the Hudson Bay Lowland as a source of atmospheric methane, fluxes were measured by enclosures throughout the 1990 snow-free period in all the major wetland types and also by an aircraft in July. Two detailed survey areas were investigated: one (≈900km2) was in the high subarctic region of the northern lowland and the second area (≈4,800 km2) straddled the Low Subarctic and High Boreal regions of the southern lowland. The fluxes were integrated over the study period to produce annual methane emissions for each wetland type. The fluxes were then weighted by the area of 16 different habitats for the southern area and 5 habitats for the northern area, as determined from Landsat thematic mapper to yield an annual habitat-weighted emission. On a per unit area basis, 1.31±0.11 and 2.79±0.39 g CH4 m−2 yr−1 were emitted from the southern and northern survey areas, respectively. The extrapolated enclosure estimates for a 3-week period in July were compared to within 10% of the flux derived by airborne eddy correlation measurements made during the same period. The aircraft mean flux of 10±9 mg CH4 m−2 d−1 was not statistically different from the extrapolated mean flux of 20±16 mg CH4 m−2 d−1. The annual habitat-weighted emission for the entire HBL using six wetland classes is estimated as 0.538±0.187 Tg CH4 yr−1 (range of extreme cases is 0.057 to 2.112 Tg CH4 yr−1). This value is much lower than expected, based on previous emission estimates from northern wetlands.

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