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Combining different measurements approaches to single out methane flux pathways in an estuarine, freshwater wetland

Research Scholar

Jorge A. Villa, assistant professor, University Corporation Lasallista (Colombia)
Gil Bohrer, faculty mentor

Background

  • Hometown: Medellín, Colombia
  • Degrees received: Master of Science in forest and environmental conservation, Universidad Nacional de Colombia, Colombia; PhD in environmental sciences, The Ohio State University, United States.

What is the issue or problem addresses in your research?

Wetlands are the single largest source of methane. This gas is a potent greenhouse gas that contributes to warm the atmosphere. However, little is known about how the different pathways of methane release from wetlands vary in time and space. This gap limits the ability to represent methane dynamics in current carbon models used to predict climate feedbacks from the land surface to the atmosphere. Also, designing proper management strategies to reduce or control methane emissions from wetlands.

What methodology did you use in your research?

We used a comprehensive approach to determine methane fluxes from an estuarine, freshwater wetland of Lake Erie. In this approach, we combined whole-ecosystem observations with site-specific measurements of concentrations in soils and separated fluxes from plants, soil/water surface and bubbling, which are three different pathways for methane release from wetlands.

What are the purpose/rationale and implications of your research?

Discriminating the different pathways and relative contribution to net emissions is key to develop and parametrize models to predict wetlands' effects on a changing climate. Specifically, in Lake Erie coastal Ohio, these measurements are relevant to assess nexus between excessive nutrient inputs from agriculture, climate change and harmful algal blooms.