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Progress in Methane Emissions by Plant Communities in Alpine Ecosystems in the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau

Author: Update time: 11-08-2008 Printer Text Size: A A A
Prof. Guangmin Cao of Northwest Institute of Plateau Biology, CAS and Xingliang Xu, research fellow of Institute of Geographic Sciences and Natural Resources Research, CAS made new progress in the theoretical research of Methane Emissions by Plant Communities in Alpine Ecosystems in the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau in their joint hands.
 
For the first time to our knowledge, they reported methane emissions by plant communities in alpine ecosystems in the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau. This has been achieved through long-term field observations from June 2003 to July 2006 using a closed chamber technique. Strong methane emission at the rate of 26.2+/-1.2 and 7.8+/-1.1mug CH4 m-2 h-1 was observed for a grass community in a Kobresia humilis meadow and a Potentilla fruticosa meadow, respectively. A shrub community in the Potentilla meadow consumed atmospheric methane at the rate of 5.8+/-1.3mug CH4 m-2 h-1 on a regional basis; plants from alpine meadows contribute at least 0.13Tg CH4 yr-1 in the Tibetan Plateau. This finding has important implications with regard to the regional methane budget and species-level difference should be considered when assessing methane emissions by plants, which was published on Biology Letters, 603-761, Vol.4, Num.6, 2008. Their conclusion set a challenge for the theory that terrestrial plants are making an outstanding contribution to the ‘green-house’ gas consumption, which is prevailing at present.
 
A Nature News reporter made a further interview on the research finding to Dr. Xinquan Zhao, director of Northwest Institute of Plateau Biology, CAS and one of key contributors of the research Project, and released her report on the topic of Tibetan Meadows Emit Methane - Field survey confirms that plants can boost levels of the greenhouse gas.
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