Articles | Volume 12, issue 13
Research article
03 Jul 2015
Research article |  | 03 Jul 2015

Seasonal and interannual variability in wetland methane emissions simulated by CLM4Me' and CAM-chem and comparisons to observations of concentrations

L. Meng, R. Paudel, P. G. M. Hess, and N. M. Mahowald

Abstract. Understanding the temporal and spatial variation of wetland methane emissions is essential to the estimation of the global methane budget. Our goal for this study is three-fold: (i) to evaluate the wetland methane fluxes simulated in two versions of the Community Land Model, the Carbon-Nitrogen (CN; i.e., CLM4.0) and the Biogeochemistry (BGC; i.e., CLM4.5) versions using the methane emission model CLM4Me' so as to determine the sensitivity of the emissions to the underlying carbon model; (ii) to compare the simulated atmospheric methane concentrations to observations, including latitudinal gradients and interannual variability so as to determine the extent to which the atmospheric observations constrain the emissions; (iii) to understand the drivers of seasonal and interannual variability in atmospheric methane concentrations. Simulations of the transport and removal of methane use the Community Atmosphere Model with chemistry (CAM-chem) model in conjunction with CLM4Me' methane emissions from both CN and BGC simulations and other methane emission sources from literature. In each case we compare model-simulated atmospheric methane concentration with observations. In addition, we simulate the atmospheric concentrations based on the TransCom wetland and rice paddy emissions derived from a different terrestrial ecosystem model, Vegetation Integrative Simulator for Trace gases (VISIT). Our analysis indicates CN wetland methane emissions are higher in the tropics and lower at high latitudes than emissions from BGC. In CN, methane emissions decrease from 1993 to 2004 while this trend does not appear in the BGC version. In the CN version, methane emission variations follow satellite-derived inundation wetlands closely. However, they are dissimilar in BGC due to its different carbon cycle. CAM-chem simulations with CLM4Me' methane emissions suggest that both prescribed anthropogenic and predicted wetlands methane emissions contribute substantially to seasonal and interannual variability in atmospheric methane concentration. Simulated atmospheric CH4 concentrations in CAM-chem are highly correlated with observations at most of the 14 measurement stations evaluated with an average correlation between 0.71 and 0.80 depending on the simulation (for the period of 1993–2004 for most stations based on data availability). Our results suggest that different spatial patterns of wetland emissions can have significant impacts on Northern and Southern hemisphere (N–S) atmospheric CH4 concentration gradients and growth rates. This study suggests that both anthropogenic and wetland emissions have significant contributions to seasonal and interannual variations in atmospheric CH4 concentrations. However, our analysis also indicates the existence of large uncertainties in terms of spatial patterns and magnitude of global wetland methane budgets, and that substantial uncertainty comes from the carbon model underlying the methane flux modules.

Final-revised paper