Methane Production by Seagrass Ecosystems in the Red Sea

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Atmospheric methane (CH) is the second strongest greenhouse gas and it is emitted to the atmosphere naturally by different sources. It is crucial to define the dimension of these natural emissions in order to forecast changes in atmospheric CH mixing ratio in future scenarios. However, CH emissions by seagrass ecosystems in shallow marine coastal systems have been neglected although their global extension. Here we quantify the CH production rates of seagrass ecosystems in the Red Sea. We measured changes in CH concentration and its isotopic signature by cavity ring-down spectroscopy on chambers containing sediment and plants. We detected CH production in all the seagrass stations with an average rate of 85.09 ± 27.80 μmol CH m d. Our results show that there is no seasonal or daily pattern in the CH production rates by seagrass ecosystems in the Red Sea. Taking in account the range of global estimates for seagrass coverage and the average seagrass CH production, the global CH production and emission by seagrass ecosystems could range from 0.09 to 2.7 Tg yr. Because CH emission by seagrass ecosystems had not been included in previous global CH budgets, our estimate would increase the contribution of marine global emissions, hitherto estimated at 9.1 Tg yr, by about 30%. Thus, the potential contribution of seagrass ecosystems to marine CH emissions provides sufficient evidence of the relevance of these fluxes as to include seagrass ecosystems in future assessments of the global CH budgets.
Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalFrontiers in Marine Science
Issue numberNOV
StatePublished - Nov 7 2017

Bibliographical note

KAUST Repository Item: Exported on 2020-10-01
Acknowledgements: This research was supported by King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST) through the baseline fund to CD. We thank Paloma Carrillo de Albornoz for her assistance during field and laboratory work. We also thank the crew of R/V Thuwal for their assistance in our field work during the scientific cruise.


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