Investigating Wetland and Nonwetland Soil Methane Emissions and Sinks Across the Contiguous United States Using a Land Surface Model

Shijie Shu, Atul K. Jain, Haroon S. Kheshgi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


We estimated the distribution of CH4 emissions and sinks from wetlands (including freshwater and coastal wetlands) and nonwetland (including wet and dry soils) with a newly developed vertically resolved soil CH4 model, integrated into a global land surface model (ISAM). We calibrated and tested this integrated model with CH4 observations at test sites in the Contiguous United States (CONUS). ISAM is applied across the CONUS to estimate CH4 emissions and sinks given both recent past observed climate and wetland extent, and future climate and wetland extent driven by two scenarios, RCP4.5 and RCP8.5. Estimated net CH4 emissions for the 2000s are 13.8 TgCH4 yr−1, mostly from wetland soils. Estimated net emissions under RCP4.5 and RCP8.5 are 30% and 64% higher, respectively, in the 2090s than in the 2000s due to (1) higher temperature and seasonal wetland extent (driven by higher precipitation in the climate scenarios), which increase modeled methanogenic activity more than methanotrophic activity in soils and (2) altered transport in the soil column and exchange with the atmosphere by modeled transport processes (diffusion, ebullition, and aerenchyma transport). Nonwetland soils emit CH4 (1.4 TgCH4 yr−1) in some areas and take up CH4 (−2.9 TgCH4 yr−1) in other areas, resulting in a net estimated sink for the 2000s; the net nonwetland soil sink increases by 15% and 46% by the 2090s under RCP4.5 and RCP8.5, respectively, mainly due to drier soil conditions, which enhances methanotrophic activity and oxidation of CH4 diffused into soil from a future atmosphere with higher CH4 concentration.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere2019GB006251
JournalGlobal Biogeochemical Cycles
Issue number7
StatePublished - Jul 1 2020


  • ISAM
  • methane dynamic model
  • nonwetland methane emissions
  • soil methane
  • wetland methane emissions

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Global and Planetary Change
  • Environmental Chemistry
  • General Environmental Science
  • Atmospheric Science


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