Global increase in methane production under future warming of lake bottom waters

Future projections of methane production rates in lake sediments.


Lakes are significant emitters of methane to the atmosphere, and thus are important components of the global methane budget. Methane is typically produced in lake sediments, with the rate of methane production being strongly temperature dependent. Local and regional studies highlight the risk of increasing methane production under future climate change, but a global estimate is not currently available. Here, we project changes in global lake bottom temperatures and sediment methane production rates from 1901 to 2099. By the end of the 21st century, lake bottom temperatures are projected to increase globally, by an average of 0.86–2.60°C under Representative Concentration Pathways (RCPs) 2.6–8.5, with greater warming projected at lower latitudes. This future warming of bottom waters will likely result in an increase in methane production rates of 13%–40% by the end of the century, with many low-latitude lakes experiencing an increase of up to 17 times the historical (1970–1999) global average under RCP 8.5. The projected increase in methane production will likely lead to higher emissions from lakes, although the exact magnitude of the emission increase requires more detailed regional studies.

Global Change Biology (28)
Tadhg N. Moore
Tadhg N. Moore
Senior Lake Scientist

My research interests include environmental data analysis, lake modelling and water education.