Methane emissions from an alpine wetland on the Tibetan Plateau: Neglected but vital contribution of the nongrowing season

Weimin Song, Hao Wang, Guangshuai Wang, Litong Chen, Zhenong Jin, Qianlai Zhuang, Jin Sheng He

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85 Scopus citations


The vast wetlands on the Tibetan Plateau are expected to be an important natural source of methane (CH4) to the atmosphere. The magnitude, patterns and environmental controls of CH4 emissions on different timescales, especially during the nongrowing season, remain poorly understood, because of technical limitations and the harsh environments. We conducted the first study on year-round CH4 fluxes in an alpine wetland using the newly developed LI-COR LI-7700 open-path gas analyzer. We found that the total annual CH4 emissions were 26.4 and 33.8 g CH4 m-2 in 2012 and 2013, respectively, and the nongrowing season CH4 emissions accounted for 43.2-46.1% of the annual emissions, highlighting an indispensable contribution that was often overlooked by previous studies. A two-peak seasonal variation in CH4 fluxes was observed, with a small peak in the spring thawing period and a large one in the peak growing season. We detected a significant difference in the diurnal variation of CH4 fluxes between the two seasons, with two peaks in the growing season and one peak in the nongrowing season. We found that the CH4 fluxes during the growing season were well correlated with soil temperature, water table depth and gross primary production, whereas the CH4 fluxes during the nongrowing season were highly correlated with soil temperature. Our results suggested that the CH4 emission during the nongrowing season cannot be ignored and the vast wetlands on the Tibetan plateau will have the potential to exert a positive feedback on climate considering the increasing warming, particularly in the nongrowing season in this region.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1475-1490
Number of pages16
JournalJournal of Geophysical Research: Biogeosciences
Issue number8
StatePublished - Aug 1 2015

Bibliographical note

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©2015. American Geophysical Union. All Rights Reserved.


  • CH fluxes
  • Eddy covariance
  • Global warming potential
  • Greenhouse gas
  • Qinghai-Xizang Plateau


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