Carbon dioxide emissions from dry watercourses
Temporary watercourses that naturally cease to flow and run dry comprise a notable fraction of the world’s river networks, yet estimates of global carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions from watercourses do not consider emissions from these systems when they are dry. Using data from a sampling campaign in a Mediterranean river during the summer drought period, we demonstrate that the CO2 efflux from dry watercourses can be substantial, comparable to that from adjacent terrestrial soils and higher than from running or stagnant waters. With an up-scaling approach, we show that including emissions from dry watercourses could increase the estimate of CO2 emissions from watercourses in our study region by 0.6–15%. Moreover, our results tentatively illustrate that emissions from dry watercourses could be especially important in arid regions, increasing the estimate of global CO2 emissions from watercourses by 0.4–9%. Albeit relatively small, the contribution of dry watercourses could help to constrain the highly uncertain magnitude of the land carbon sink. We foresee that in many areas of the world, the expected increase in the extent of temporary watercourses associated with future global change will increase the relevance of CO2 emissions from dry watercourses.
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