Thursday, 9 August 2012

"Diseased trees new source of climate gas" - really?

Sometimes, I read of what's hailed as "ground-breaking" research and chuckle to myself. In this case, I laughed at loud. Eureka! Science News has the breathtaking details -
Diseased trees in forests may be a significant new source of methane that causes climate change, according to researchers at the Yale School of Forestry & Environmental Studies in Geophysical Research Letters. Sixty trees sampled at Yale Myers Forest in northeastern Connecticut contained concentrations of methane that were as high as 80,000 times ambient levels. Normal air concentrations are less than 2 parts per million, but the Yale researchers found average levels of 15,000 parts per million inside trees.
Really? Decaying plant matter produces methane in the absence of oxygen? You could have knocked me over with an anaerobic digester. That page I linked to says
Farms and ranches can use anaerobic digesters—also known as biodigesters—to recover methane (biogas) from animal manure for producing electricity, heat, and hot water. Anaerobic digesters not only reduce energy costs but also methane emissions, which contribute to global warming.
It's referring to animal manure produced on farms and ranches, but it's well known that decaying plant matter produces methane rather than carbon dioxide when there's too little (or no) oxygen to add the "dioxide" part of the CO2. It's the reason methane bubbles to the surface from the bottom of pools and lakes. It's the reason that peatlands produce methane from thick and airless deposits below the surface. It's the reason the methane clathrates form layers in the sea-bed, much feared by some alarmists as a vast source of one of their bogey-man greenhouse gases.
"These are flammable concentrations," said Kristofer Covey, the study's lead author and a Ph.D. candidate at Yale. "Because the conditions thought to be driving this process are common throughout the world's forests, we believe we have found a globally significant new source of this potent greenhouse gas."
"New source"? A search on Google for rotting trees methane garners 3,290,000 results, most of which are relevant in identifying rotting vegetation, especially trees, as a significant global source of methane.
"No one until now has linked the idea that fungal rot of timber trees, a production problem in commercial forestry, might also present a problem for greenhouse gas and climate change mitigation," said Mark Bradford, a co-author and Assistant Professor of Terrestrial Ecosystem Ecology at F&ES.
""No one until now..." says Mark Bradford? People like Messrs Bradford & Covey really need to get out more, and when they are in, read more.

No comments:

Post a Comment