Predicting future methane fluxes from northern lakes (METLAKE)

Bilden visar en sjö. Picture on a lake

The aim of the project is to better quantify and develop models to predict methane emissions from lakes. Methane is an important greenhouse gas, and new research shows that the lakes are on of the largest sources om methane. By mapping how lake emissions of these natural greenhouse gases are regulated, and how sensitive they are to global warming, it becomes easier to assess how the fluxes will develop and contribute to the future climate.

The new global temperature goal calls for reliable quantification of present and future greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, including climate feedbacks. Non-CO2 GHGs, with methane (CH4) being the most important, represent a large but highly uncertain component in global GHG budget. Lakes are among the largest natural sources of CH4 but our understanding of lake CH4 fluxes is rudimentary. Lake emissions are not yet routinely monitored, and coherent, spatially representative, long-term datasets are rare which hamper accurate flux estimates and predictions. 

METLAKE aims to improve our ability to quantify and predict lake CH4 emissions.Major goals include:

  1. the development of predictive models, validated by extensive field data, and being suitable for use at the lake rich northern latitudes where large climate changes are anticipated in the near future,
  2. the testing of the idea that appropriate consideration of spatiotemporal scaling can greatly facilitate generation of accurate yet simple predictive models,
  3. to reveal and quantify detailed flux regulation patterns, 
  4. as a basis for the above goals - to generate more representative CH4 flux measurements. 

Extensive field work based on optimized state-of-the-art approaches will yield multi-scale and multi-system data, supplemented by experiments. All information will be analyzed addressing effects of scaling on model performance. Altogether, METLAKE aims to advance our understanding of one of the largest natural CH4 sources, and provide systematic tools to predict future lake emissions. Such quantification of feedbacks on natural GHG emissions will improve global GHG budgets and enable better estimates of the mitigation efforts needed to reach global climate goals.

METLAKE is funded by the European Research Council (ERC) under the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme (grant agreement No 725546).


ERC European Research Council