Salinity causes widespread restriction of methane emissions from small inland waters


jats:titleAbstract</jats:title>jats:pInland waters are one of the largest natural sources of methane (CHjats:sub4</jats:sub>), a potent greenhouse gas, but emissions models and estimates were developed for solute-poor ecosystems and may not apply to salt-rich inland waters. Here we combine field surveys and eddy covariance measurements to show that salinity constrains microbial CHjats:sub4</jats:sub> cycling through complex mechanisms, restricting aquatic emissions from one of the largest global hardwater regions (the Canadian Prairies). Existing models overestimated CHjats:sub4</jats:sub> emissions from ponds and wetlands by up to several orders of magnitude, with discrepancies linked to salinity. While not significant for rivers and larger lakes, salinity interacted with organic matter availability to shape CHjats:sub4</jats:sub> patterns in small lentic habitats. We estimate that excluding salinity leads to overestimation of emissions from small Canadian Prairie waterbodies by at least 81% ( ~ 1 Tg yrjats:sup−1</jats:sup> COjats:sub2</jats:sub> equivalent), a quantity comparable to other major national emissions sources. Our findings are consistent with patterns in other hardwater landscapes, likely leading to an overestimation of global lentic CHjats:sub4</jats:sub> emissions. Widespread salinization of inland waters may impact CHjats:sub4</jats:sub> cycling and should be considered in future projections of aquatic emissions.</jats:p>

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Soued, C., Bogard, M.J., Finlay, K. et al. Salinity causes widespread restriction of methane emissions from small inland waters. Nat Commun 15, 717 (2024).