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Harrison Research Group News

Harrison to participate in IPCC national inventory guideline development for “flooded lands”

John will participate as a U.S. delegate and lead author in the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s upcoming effort to update how countries account for their greenhouse gas emissions.  Until recently, national greenhouse gas inventories have not included emissions from reservoirs, but recent work from our group and others has shown that this is a substantial oversight.  In an effort to correct this, the UN has commissioned a chapter of their revised guidance to the national inventory development process focused on reservoirs.  The first meeting for lead authors will occur in Bilbao Spain in June.

WSU Vancouver Research Infrastructure Grants Funded

WSU Vancouver’s office of Research has funded several exciting research infrastructure proposals that will directly and indirectly support environmental research on our campus.  These include: 1) a core facility in Environmental Mapping, 2) a research vehicle, and 3) improved high-performance computing access.  The Environmental Mapping core facility will include a bathymetric system and a hyperspectral camera for airborne deployment.  A fourth proposal to purchase equipment in support of cell and molecular research was also funded.

New Paper Linking Reservoir Drawdowns to Large Methane Emissions to Appear in Environmental Science and Technology

Bubbles at the surface of JC Boyle Reservoir during a water-level drawdown

In a new study of six Pacific Northwest reservoirs (available via open access here) we document substantial increases in emissions of methane, a powerful

greenhouse gas, during drawdowns for power generation, flood control, irrigation, and maintenance.

We saw at least a three-fold increase in methane emissions via bubbling and diffusion during drawdowns. In Lacamas Lake, one of the study reservoirs, emissions surged more than 6,000-fold.

We also did a side-by-side comparison of two similar reservoirs and saw that the one with drawdowns released three times more methane than a reservoir located just upstream where water levels were held constant.

A related study released last year, led by Harrison Lab alum Bridget Deemer, found that, collectively, the world’s reservoirs have a greater greenhouse warming impact than all of Canada.  The new study suggests steps that might be taken to reduce methane emissions from reservoirs such as timing drawdowns to follow periods when lake oxygen levels could help facilitate the breakdown of methane. It also raises questions regarding whether reservoir drawdowns have been sufficiently considered in recent efforts to estimate methane emissions from reservoirs.

M.J. Murdock Trust Offers to Support Purchase of ICP-MS and IC at WSU Vancouver

The M.J. Murdock Charitable Trust has generously offered to provide $171,500 toward the purchase of two analytical instruments that together will greatly expand WSU Vancouver’s analytical capabilities: an Inductively Coupled Plasma Mass Spectrometer (ICP-MS) and an Ion Chromatograph (IC).  We are optimistic that these instruments will be available to researchers on a fee basis beginning early in 2017 — stay tuned for more information.  In the meantime, we are very excited about the potential to use these instruments to characterize water quality, elemental transfers, and biogeochemical transformations!

New Synthesis of Reservoir Greenhouse Gas Emissions Published in BioScience

The new study synthesizes reservoir CH4, CO2, and N2O emission data with three main objectives: (1) generate a global estimate of GHG emissions from reservoirs, (2) identify the best predictors of these emissions, and (3) consider the effect of methodology on emission estimates.

Diffusive + ebullitive methane (top), carbon dioxide (middle), and nitrous oxide (bottom) emissions from reservoirs on a CO2-equivalent basis (100-year horizon). Few reservoirs had measurements for all three gases.
Diffusive + ebullitive methane (top), carbon dioxide (middle), and nitrous oxide (bottom) emissions from
reservoirs on a CO2-equivalent basis (100-year horizon). Few reservoirs had measurements for all three gases.

The study finds that greenhouse gas emissions from reservoir surfaces account for 0.8 Pg CO2 equivalents per year, with the majority (~80%) of this forcing due to CH4.

The paper was highlighted as the “Editor’s Choice” and is accompanied by a nice podcast interview with study lead-author Bridget Deemer.

Man-made reservoirs: New source of greenhouse gases