Articles | Volume 9, issue 2
Research article
15 Feb 2012
Research article |  | 15 Feb 2012

Use of a process-based model for assessing the methane budgets of global terrestrial ecosystems and evaluation of uncertainty

A. Ito and M. Inatomi

Abstract. We assessed the global terrestrial budget of methane (CH4) by using a process-based biogeochemical model (VISIT) and inventory data for components of the budget that were not included in the model. Emissions from wetlands, paddy fields, biomass burning, and plants, as well as oxidative consumption by upland soils, were simulated by the model. Emissions from ruminant livestock and termites were evaluated by using an inventory approach. These CH4 flows were estimated for each of the model's 0.5° × 0.5° grid cells from 1901 to 2009, while accounting for atmospheric composition, meteorological factors, and land-use changes. Estimation uncertainties were examined through ensemble simulations using different parameterization schemes and input data (e.g., different wetland maps and emission factors). From 1996 to 2005, the average global terrestrial CH4 budget was estimated on the basis of 1152 simulations, and terrestrial ecosystems were found to be a net source of 308.3 ± 20.7 Tg CH4 yr−1. Wetland and livestock ruminant emissions were the primary sources. The results of our simulations indicate that sources and sinks are distributed highly heterogeneously over the Earth's land surface. Seasonal and interannual variability in the terrestrial budget was also assessed. The trend of increasing net emission from terrestrial sources and its relationship with temperature variability imply that terrestrial CH4 feedbacks will play an increasingly important role as a result of future climatic change.

Final-revised paper