In a paper published in Nature, NOMIS researcher Tom Battin and colleagues argue that “a global river observing system will play a key role in understanding river networks and their future evolution in the context of the global carbon budget.” Battin is leading the Vanishing Glaciers project.
River networks represent the largest biogeochemical nexus between the continents, ocean and atmosphere. Our current understanding of the role of rivers in the global carbon cycle remains limited, which makes it difficult to predict how global change may alter the timing and spatial distribution of riverine carbon sequestration and greenhouse gas emissions. Here we review the state of river ecosystem metabolism research and synthesize the current best available estimates of river ecosystem metabolism. We quantify the organic and inorganic carbon flux from land to global rivers and show that their net ecosystem production and carbon dioxide emissions shift the organic to inorganic carbon balance en route from land to the coastal ocean. Furthermore, we discuss how global change may affect river ecosystem metabolism and related carbon fluxes and identify research directions that can help to develop better predictions of the effects of global change on riverine ecosystem processes. We argue that a global river observing system will play a key role in understanding river networks and their future evolution in the context of the global carbon budget.
Continue reading this Nature publication: River ecosystem metabolism and carbon biogeochemistry in a changing world
Tom J. Battin
Full professor of environmental sciences, School of Architecture, Civil and Environmental Engineering
Vanishing Glaciers — What Else Besides Water Is Lost?
NOMIS RESEARCH PROJECT