Unews, University of Utah
Carbon emissions to the atmosphere from streams and rivers are expected to increase as warmer water temperatures stimulate faster rates of organic matter breakdown.
But a new study led by University of Utah researcher Jennifer J. Follstad Shah, in collaboration with a team of 15 scientists in the U.S. and Europe, suggests these decay rates may not increase as much as expected. In fact, the study indicates average breakdown rates may increase 5 percent to 21 percent with a 1 degree to 4-degree Celsius rise in water temperature — half as much as the 10 percent to 45 percent increase predicted by metabolic theory. Mean annual water temperature for some streams and rivers is currently rising at an annual rate of about 0.01 degrees to 0.1 degrees Celsius due to changes in climate and land use.
The study “Global synthesis of the temperature sensitivity of leaf litter breakdown in streams and rivers” was published Feb. 28 in Global Change Biology.
Streams and rivers cover about 3 percent of Earth’s land surface but are an important contributor to the global carbon cycle. These waterways constitute a major habitat where organic matter such as leaf litter is transformed through physical processes and consumption by microbes and invertebrates. Some of the organic matter consumed contributes to the growth of these organisms, but a portion is ‘lost’ downstream as invertebrates tear litter into smaller pieces and some is emitted to the atmosphere as carbon dioxide through respiration.
Scientific Name: Alternanthera philoxeroides A native of South America, alligatorweed was inadvertently introduced to Southeastern U.S. in the late 1800s. Its white flowers are clover-like and bloom a summer. Most commonly found floating in mats along the water’s edge, alligatorweed also grows immersed and even terrestrially. Its opposing leaves are lance shaped, 1-2 inches long, […]
Do you know where the water that flows into a storm drain goes? This water does not go to a treatment plant but flows directly into our streams, lakes, and rivers. Many people poor oil, paint, yard waste, and other pollutants into the storm drain because they think the water will be treated before […]
RiverLink and MountainTrue have developed informational kiosks for each river access point along the French Broad River Paddle Trail with a grant from the North Carolina Recreational Trails Program. Each kiosk focuses on historical and natural features of the river, as well as paddle trail information including maps and boater resources. These kiosks aid users and […]