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Partioning Tree Methane Emissions

Project description

Quantifying methane production in plants

Methane (CH4), like CO2, is a greenhouse gas (GHG) that contributes to global warming. Although it accounts for a much lower percentage of total GHG emissions than CO2, its 'potency' or heat-trapping ability is much greater. CH4 enters the atmosphere from a variety of sources. While the total CH4 from plants has been studied, the three individual contributing processes have not. The EU-funded PaTreME project plans to separately quantify CH4 production processes in plants through measurement and modelling. Understanding and predicting global climate change is one of the greatest challenges of the 21st century. PaTreME outcomes will support that process, constraining models of natural CH4 emissions and enhancing predictive potential.


The role of plants in the global methane (CH4) cycle remains poorly understood. Plants can emit CH4 from aerobic methane production (AMP), microbial methanogenesis within plants (MMP), and the export soil methane (SM) via plant tissues. These plants-associated CH4 emissions may be quantitatively significant (15-65% of all natural CH4 emissions) but remain poorly constrained. So far, field studies have only quantified the sum of all these plant-atmosphere CH4 fluxes, limiting the degree to which each process can be mathematically described and incorporated into CH4 budgets and models.

I am an experienced stable isotope biogeochemist. The MSCA fellowship will allow me to work a world leading group focused on the measurement and modeling of plant-atmosphere trace gas fluxes. Together, we will (a) develop a method to separately quantify AMP, MMP, and SM emissions from plants based on the CH4 isotope values (δ13C, δ2H, and Δ14C) and methanol co-emissions (MeOH:CH4), and (b) apply this method to methane emissions from boreal forest trees at the SMEAR II research site in Southern Finland.

Reaching these goals will require (1) adapting stem and shoot enclosure chambers to collect CH4 for offline analysis; (2) identifying characteristic CH4 isotope and MeOH:CH4 values of AMP, MMP, and SM; (3) measuring isotope and MeOH:CH4 values of plant CH4 emissions at SMEAR II, and (4) developing a Bayesian petitioning model for plant CH4 emissions.


Net EU contribution
€ 202 680,96
Yliopistonkatu 3
00014 Helsingin yliopisto

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Manner-Suomi Helsinki-Uusimaa Helsinki-Uusimaa
Activity type
Higher or Secondary Education Establishments
Other funding
€ 0,00