Net emissions of CH4 and CO2 in Alaska: implications for the region's greenhouse gas budget. Academic Article uri icon


  • We used a biogeochemistry model, the Terrestrial Ecosystem Model (TEM), to study the net methane (CH4) fluxes between Alaskan ecosystems and the atmosphere. We estimated that the current net emissions of CH4 (emissions minus consumption) from Alaskan soils are approximately 3 Tg CH4/yr. Wet tundra ecosystems are responsible for 75% of the region's net emissions, while dry tundra and upland boreal forests are responsible for 50% and 45% of total consumption over the region, respectively. In response to climate change over the 21st century, our simulations indicated that CH4 emissions from wet soils would be enhanced more than consumption by dry soils of tundra and boreal forests. As a consequence, we projected that net CH4 emissions will almost double by the end of the century in response to high-latitude warming and associated climate changes. When we placed these CH4 emissions in the context of the projected carbon budget (carbon dioxide [CO2] and CH4) for Alaska at the end of the 21st century, we estimated that Alaska will be a net source of greenhouse gases to the atmosphere of 69 Tg CO2 equivalents/yr, that is, a balance between net methane emissions of 131 Tg CO2 equivalents/yr and carbon sequestration of 17 Tg C/yr (62 Tg CO2 equivalents/yr).

publication date

  • January 2007