Articles | Volume 9, issue 12
Research article
18 Dec 2012
Research article |  | 18 Dec 2012

Methane emissions associated with the conversion of marshland to cropland and climate change on the Sanjiang Plain of northeast China from 1950 to 2100

T. Li, Y. Huang, W. Zhang, and Y.-Q. Yu

Abstract. Wetland loss and climate change are known to alter regional and global methane (CH4) budgets. Over the last six decades, an extensive area of marshland has been converted to cropland on the Sanjiang Plain in northeast China, and a significant increase in air temperature has also been observed there, while the impacts on regional CH4 budgets remain uncertain. Through model simulation, we estimated the changes in CH4 emissions associated with the conversion of marshland to cropland and climate change in this area. Model simulations indicated a significant reduction of 1.1 Tg yr−1 (0.7–1.8 Tg yr−1) from the 1950s to the 2000s in regional CH4 emissions. The cumulative reduction of CH4 from 1960 to 2009 was estimated to be ~36 Tg (24–57 Tg) relative to the 1950s, and marshland conversion and the climate contributed 86% and 14% of this change, respectively. Interannual variation in precipitation (linear trend with P > 0.2) contributed to yearly fluctuations in CH4 emissions, but the relatively lower amount of precipitation over the period 1960–2009 (47 mm yr−1 lower on average than in the 1950s) contributed ~91% of the reduction in the area-weighted CH4 flux. Global warming at a rate of 0.3 ° per decade (P < 0.001) has increased CH4 emissions significantly since the 1990s. Relative to the mean of the 1950s, the warming-induced increase in the CH4 flux has averaged 19 kg ha−1 yr−1 over the last two decades. In the RCP (Representative Concentration Pathway) 2.6, RCP 4.5, RCP 6.0 and RCP 8.5 scenarios of the fifth IPCC assessment report (AR5), the CH4 fluxes are predicted to increase by 36%, 52%, 78% and 95%, respectively, by the 2080s compared to 1961–1990 in response to climate warming and wetting.

Final-revised paper