Global importance of methane emissions from drainage ditches and canals

Peacock, M.; Audet, J.; Bastviken, D.; Futter, M.N.; Gauci, V.; Grinham, A.; Harrison, J.A.; Kent, M.S.; Kosten, S.; Lovelock, C.E.; Veraart, A.J.; Evans, C.D. ORCID: 2021 Global importance of methane emissions from drainage ditches and canals. Environmental Research Letters, 16 (4), 044010. 11, pp.

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Globally, there are millions of kilometres of drainage ditches which have the potential to emit the powerful greenhouse gas methane (CH4), but these emissions are not reported in budgets of inland waters or drained lands. Here, we synthesise data to show that ditches spanning a global latitudinal gradient and across different land uses emit large quantities of CH4 to the atmosphere. Area-specific emissions are comparable to those from lakes, streams, reservoirs, and wetlands. While it is generally assumed that drainage negates terrestrial CH4 emissions, we find that CH4 emissions from ditches can, on average, offset ~10% of this reduction. Using global areas of drained land we show that ditches contribute 3.5 Tg CH4 yr−1 (0.6–10.5 Tg CH4 yr−1); equivalent to 0.2%–3% of global anthropogenic CH4 emissions. A positive relationship between CH4 emissions and temperature was found, and emissions were highest from eutrophic ditches. We advocate the inclusion of ditch emissions in national GHG inventories, as neglecting them can lead to incorrect conclusions concerning the impact of drainage-based land management on CH4 budgets.

Item Type: Publication - Article
Digital Object Identifier (DOI):
UKCEH and CEH Sections/Science Areas: Soils and Land Use (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: methane, ditch, greenhouse gas, drainage, land use
NORA Subject Terms: Atmospheric Sciences
Date made live: 23 Mar 2021 16:51 +0 (UTC)

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