Funded Research Projects: FOREST ECOLOGY

Magnitude and Controls on the Lateral Transport of Carbon via Steams and Rivers

Research Sponsored By: Yale University
Principal Investigator: David Butman
Project Description
Inland waters cover a small area of the planet and thus their impact on global budgets has received limited systematic study. Nevertheless, idiosyncratic approaches, have, in recent years, suggested that inland waters are key “hot spots” that control the processing of carbon at the global scale. The study of the roles of both the ocean and the terrestrial biosphere have made stunning achievements by launching systematic large regional- to- global networks. In contrast, the study of inland waters has lagged, largely due to lack of any centralized coordination and synthesis. Here we will continue efforts previously funded by NASA to research the magnitude and controls of lateral carbon fluxes at the scale of the United States and the globe. This project will launch a systematic program to refine and scale-up what is known about inland water fluxes to the global scale. Activities will include creating the first database of measured greenhouse gas measurements for streams and rivers. Furthermore we will begin a global network for the measurements of riverine carbon pools. Further activities will include research in documenting the role landscape and climate controls on lateral carbon fluxes. Finally we will host a number of workshops of the broader community in order to bring together this community. The inland water community has made recent scaling advancements, but the community still suffers from a lack of cohesion that precludes a systematic and sustained approach. Work will center exclusively on carbon, which is an element with obvious societal importance due to its radiative heating potential in the atmosphere. The resulting products, however, will be important to any element in aquatic environments that has a gaseous phase, is exported to the ocean, or is buried in inland lakes, reservoirs and wetlands.