Stressed crops emit more methane emissions than previously thought

August 18th, 2009 - 12:51 pm ICT by ANI  

Washington, August 18 (ANI): Scientists at the University of Calgary (U of C) in Canada have found that methane emission by stressed crops could be a bigger problem in global warming than previously thought.

According to a U of C study, when crops are exposed to environmental factors that are part of climate change - increased temperature, drought and ultraviolet-B radiation - some plants show enhanced methane emissions.

Methane is a very potent greenhouse gas; 23 times more effective in trapping heat than carbon dioxide (CO2).

“Most studies just look at one factor. We wanted to mix a few of the environmental factors that are part of the climate change scenario to study a more true-to-life impact climate change has on plants,” said David Reid, a professor in the Department of Biological Sciences, who co-authored a paper with research associate Mirwais Qaderi in the advanced on-line edition of the journal Physiologia Plantarum.

Reid and Qaderi analyzed methane emissions from six important Canadian crops - faba bean, sunflower, pea, canola, barley and wheat - that were exposed to combinations of three components of global climate change: temperature, ultraviolet-B radiation and water stress (drought).

What they found was troubling.

These stresses caused plants to emit more methane. In a warmer, drier world, methane might be a bigger contributor in global warming than previously thought.

When it comes to the greenhouse effect, methane could be considered the misunderstood and often overlooked orphan greenhouse gas.

Much of the attention has been focused on carbon dioxide, but more recently it has been realized that methane should also be considered as a very significant greenhouse gas.

Its concentrations have more than doubled since pre-industrial times.

While the growth rate of methane concentrations has slowed since the early 1990s, some scientists say this is only a temporary pause.

“Our results are of importance in the whole climate warming discussion because methane is such a potent greenhouse warming gas,” said Qaderi.

“It points to the possibility of yet another possible feedback phenomena which could add to global warming,” he added. (ANI)

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