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Long-term growth at elevated carbon dioxide stimulates methane emission in tropical paddy rice


Dr Lewis H. Ziska,
e-mail, fax +1/301-504-6626


Recent anthropogenic emissions of key atmospheric trace gases (e.g. CO2 and CH4) which absorb infra-red radiation may lead to an increase in mean surface temperatures and potential changes in climate. Although sources of each gas have been evaluated independently, little attention has focused on potential interactions between gases which could influence emission rates. In the current experiment, the effect of enhanced CO2 (300 μL L–1 above ambient) and/or air temperature (4 °C above ambient) on methane generation and emission were determined for the irrigated tropical paddy rice system over 3 consecutive field seasons (1995 wet and dry seasons 1996 dry season). For all three seasons, elevated CO2 concentration resulted in a significant increase in dissolved soil methane relative to the ambient control. Consistent with the observed increases in soil methane, measurements of methane flux per unit surface area during the 1995 wet and 1996 dry seasons also showed a significant increase at elevated carbon dioxide concentration relative to the ambient CO2 condition (+49 and 60% for each season, respectively). Growth of rice at both increasing CO2 concentration and air temperature did not result in additional stimulation of either dissolved or emitted methane compared to growth at elevated CO2 alone. The observed increase in methane emissions were associated with a large, consistent, CO2-induced stimulation of root growth. Results from this experiment suggest that as atmospheric CO2 concentration increases, methane emissions from tropical paddy rice could increase above current projections.