Stream bubbles and climate change

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Freshwater streams could contribute to climate change… on this CurrentCast.

When it comes to greenhouse gas emissions, human activities are the largest source of methane, but there are also natural culprits – and new research suggests they include streams.

Stream Picture

Methane is a byproduct of bacteria that live in river sediments. According to John Crawford of the University of Wisconsin-Madison, the gas dissolves in water, and is emitted via bubbles.

Crawford: “All you need is something like a stick or your foot, and you can stir up these sediments and see these bubbles just erupting from the streambeds.”

Crawford says even if streams are not a large source of methane, they should still be included in climate models.

Crawford: “It’s going to be really hard if not impossible to get a model that’s running properly unless you know all the components.”
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Fast Facts about The Great Lakes & Georgian Bay

  • Georgian Bay is a bay of Lake Huron, one of the five Great Lakes
  • Only 1 % of the water in the Great Lakes is renewable.
  • The 1% comes from direct rain and snow on the Great Lakes; and from surrounding lands and waterways (including streams) from the 200,000 + square miles Great Lakes drainage basin. (Source: Fast Facts about the Great Lakes, Great Lakes Forever.
  • Read more about climate change impacts
  • 5 things you can do to reduce your carbon footprint. Read more.