Gassy bubbles in freshwater streams are natural, lovely, and—wait for it—may also be contributing to climate change. Listen up:
When it comes to greenhouse gas emissions, human activities are the largest source of methane, but there are also natural culprits—and new research suggests they include streams.
Methane is a byproduct of bacteria that live in river sediments. According to John Crawford of the University of Wisconsin-Madison, the gas dissolves in water, and is emitted via bubbles.
“All you need is something like a stick or your foot, and you can stir up these sediments and see these bubbles just erupting from the streambeds,” he explains.
Crawford says even if streams are not a large source of methane, they should still be included in climate models.
“It’s going to be really hard, if not impossible, to get a model that’s running properly unless you know all the components,” Crawford states.
So let it be noted—even minuscule bubbles should be accounted for when it comes to climate change.
- Read about John Crawford’s limnology field work and data collection from the UW-Madison Center for Limnology
- Get the 411 via Science Daily on how bubbles are emitting methane gas to the environment
- Bobble this way and check out “Streams May Add to Climate Change: Babbling Brook Bubbles Contain Methane” from Science World Report
- Learn more about methane emissions from streams with a little help from Global Change Biology
The fine print:
- This segment was produced in partnership with Cornell’s Atkinson Center for a Sustainable Future