Oct. 30, 2019

Scientists have reported the findings of the first large-scale study of the carbon dioxide emissions of mountain streams, and their role in global carbon fluxes (the carbon exchanged between various carbon pools on Earth).

Key findings: 

  • The international study led by Switzerland-based research institute École polytechnique fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL) has been published in the journal Nature Communications.

  • Mountain streams have a higher average carbon dioxide emission rate per square metre than streams at lower altitudes, due in part to the additional turbulence caused as water flows down slopes.

  • Mountain streams account for 5% in the global surface area of fluvial networks. 10%-30% is the share of mountain streams in carbon dioxide emissions from all fluvial networks.

  • The findings indicate that the carbon dioxide comes from geological sources. The result shows importance of including mountain streams in assessments of the global carbon cycle.