The influence of plants on atmospheric methane in an agriculture-dominated landscape

Xin Zhang, Xuhui Lee, Timothy J Griffis, John M. Baker, Matt D. Erickson, Ning Hu, Wei Xiao

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The primary objective of this study was to clarify the influence of crop plants on atmospheric methane (CH4) in an agriculture-dominated landscape in the Upper Midwest of the United States. Measurements were carried out at two contrasting scales. At the plant scale, CH4 fluxes from soybean and corn plants were measured with a laser-based plant chamber system. At the landscape scale, the land surface flux was estimated with a modified Bowen ratio technique using measurements made on a tall tower. The chamber data revealed a diurnal pattern for the plant CH4 flux: it was positive (an emission rate of 0.4 ± 0.1 nmol m-2 s-1, average of soybean and corn, in reference to the unit ground area) during the day, and negative (an uptake rate of -0.8 ± 0.8 nmol m-2 s-1) during the night. At the landscape scale, the flux was estimated to be 14.8 nmol m-2 s-1 at night and highly uncertain during the day, but the available references and the flux estimates from the equilibrium methods suggested that the CH4 flux during the entire observation period was similar to the estimated nighttime flux. Thus, soybean and corn plants have a negligible role in the landscape-scale CH4 budget.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)819-833
Number of pages15
JournalInternational Journal of Biometeorology
Issue number5
StatePublished - Jul 2014

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Acknowledgments We would like to thank the University of Minnesota UMore Park for use of the facilities. Funding was provided by the Ministry of Education of China (grant PCSIRT), the Rice Family Foundation, the Yale Institute for Biospheric Studies, and USDA NIFA/2010-65112-20528.


  • Agriculture
  • Corn
  • Footprint analysis
  • Land surface flux
  • Methane
  • Soybean


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