Measurements of the δ13C of methane released from tropical, temperate, and arctic wetland sites are reported. The mean δ13C values (relative to PDB) for methane emitted from the Amazon floodplain, Minnesota peat bogs and Alaskan tundra are −53 ± 8, −66 ± 5 and −64 ± 5‰, respectively. These measurements combined with methane flux estimates yield a flux‐weighted global average δ13C value of −59 ± 6‰ for methane released from wetlands, a major natural methane source. The agreement between the measured δ13C for methane emitted from wetlands and the calculated steady state value of approximately −60‰ for the δ13C of preindustrial methane sources suggests that methane was predominantly produced biogenically in the preindustrial era. The industrial era time rate of change of the δ13C of the global methane flux is calculated from estimates of the growth rate of the major anthropogenically derived methane sources and the 13C composition of these sources, and compared to the measured change in the δ13C of methane during the last 300 years. Based on these results, we estimate that 13 ± 8% of the current global methane flux is derived abiogenically from natural gas and biomass burning, whereas the remainder is derived biogenically primarily from wetlands, rice paddies, and livestock.
Global Biogeochemical Cycles – Wiley
Published: Dec 1, 1988
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