Significant feedbacks of wetland methane release on climate change and the causes of their uncertainty

Gedney, N.; Huntingford, C.; Comyn-Platt, E.; Wiltshire, A.. 2019 Significant feedbacks of wetland methane release on climate change and the causes of their uncertainty. Environmental Research Letters, 14 (8), 084027. 10, pp.

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Emissions from wetlands are the single largest source of the atmospheric greenhouse gas (GHG) methane (CH4). This may increase in a warming climate, leading to a positive feedback on climate change. For the first time, we extend interactive wetland CH4 emissions schemes to include the recently quantified, significant process of CH4 transfer through tropical trees. We constrain the parameterisations using a multi-site flux study, and biogeochemical and inversion models. This provides an estimate and uncertainty range in contemporary, large-scale wetland emissions and their response to temperature. To assess the potential for future wetland CH4 emissions to feedback on climate, the schemes are forced with simulated climate change using a 'pattern-scaling' system, which links altered atmospheric radiative forcing to meteorology changes. We perform multiple simulations emulating 34 Earth System Models over different anthropogenic GHG emissions scenarios (RCPs). We provide a detailed assessment of the causes of uncertainty in predicting wetland CH4–climate feedback. Despite the constraints applied, uncertainty from wetland CH4 emission modelling is greater that from projected climate spread (under a given RCP). Limited knowledge of contemporary global wetland emissions restricts model calibration, producing the largest individual cause of wetland parameterisation uncertainty. Wetland feedback causes an additional temperature increase between 0.6% and 5.5% over the 21st century, with a feedback on climate ranging from 0.01 to 0.11 Wm−2 K−1. Wetland CH4 emissions amplify atmospheric CH4 increases by up to a further possible 25.4% in one simulation, and reduce remaining allowed anthropogenic emissions to maintain the RCP2.6 temperature threshold by 8.0% on average.

Item Type: Publication - Article
Digital Object Identifier (DOI):
UKCEH and CEH Sections/Science Areas: Hydro-climate Risks (Science Area 2017-)
ISSN: 1748-9326
Additional Information. Not used in RCUK Gateway to Research.: Open Access paper - full text available via Official URL link.
Additional Keywords: wetlands, methane, climate, feedback
NORA Subject Terms: Atmospheric Sciences
Date made live: 07 Aug 2019 09:34 +0 (UTC)

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