Massive Releases of CO2 from Mountain Streams | The Institute for Creation Research
Massive Releases of CO2 from Mountain Streams
Recently, a new study published in Nature Communications found that mountain streams may be much larger contributors to the global carbon cycle than previously believed.1 The study suggests that this is a consequence of the higher turbulence levels of most mountain streams.

Lead author Åsa Horgby, of the Stream Biofilm and Ecosystem Research Laboratory at École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL) in Lausanne, Switzerland, and co-authors found that mountain streams release 184 million US tons of carbon globally each year.1 This is roughly the same as the total global output of CO2 from all tropical streams and their floodplains, yet mountain streams cover much less surface area.1

Horgby said, “Mountain streams may represent 10%–30% of the total flux from streams and rivers. They represent just 5% of the surface area of streams and rivers.”2

Prior to this study, the global contribution of CO2 from mountain streams was thought to be rather miniscule. But this report demonstrates a major contributor of CO2 to our atmosphere comes from streams exiting the mountains of the world.

Tom Battin, head of the Stream Biofilm and Ecosystem Research Laboratory, said “If you have a Coca Cola bottle and you shake it, for example, you get a higher flux. And this is what’s happening in mountain streams.”2

In fact, the researchers found that the release of CO2 from the mountain streams globally rivals the volume absorbed by the ocean annually. Battin added,

When you take all of the inland waters—streams, rivers, lakes, etc.—we think that they emit as much CO2 per year as the oceans globally absorb per year. The fluxes, although in different directions, are the same order of magnitude. For the ocean, it’s something like 2.5 gigatons of carbon per year. For the inland waters it’s between 2–3 gigatons.2

So where does all this carbon come from? Many mountain streams originate in high-elevation areas above the tree line where little CO2 is produced by decomposition of plants. The authors suggest that the high amounts of CO2 in mountain streams may instead come from the weathering of nearby carbonate-rich rocks, soil, and even the groundwater.1

Many of us claim, that streams and rivers and lakes emit lots of CO2 into the atmosphere and therefore they are major players in the global carbon cycle. Now we understand more and more that especially for the high-mountain streams, most of that CO2 is from the catchment, not from the stream itself.2

This study suggests that there may be many other, previously unaccounted for, sources of CO2 that climate researchers have not included in their models. Focusing too much on anthropogenic contributions alone leaves major pieces out of the total carbon equation. God put a lot of checks and balances into the Earth’s global carbon system. Mountain streams are now known to play a major role in this balance. We can be thankful that God created such a wonderful, balanced climate for us to live in.

References
1. Horgby, Å. et al. 2019. Unexpected large evasion fluxes of carbon dioxide from turbulent streams draining the world’s mountains. Nature Communications. 10: 4888.
2. Cartier, K. M. S. Mountain streams exhale more than their share of CO2. Eos: Hydrology, Cryosphere & Earth Science. Posted on eos.org April 20, 2020, accessed April 23, 2020.

*Dr. Clarey is Research Associate at the Institute for Creation Research and earned his doctorate in geology from Western Michigan University.
The Latest
NEWS
Supersaurus-Sized Dinosaur No Match for the Flood
Scientists are still trying to out-do each another by finding the biggest dinosaur. Brian Curtice, from the Arizona Museum of Natural History, recently...

NEWS
Inside December 2021 Acts & Facts
How can we understand Christ’s role as our mediator from a scientific perspective? Why was ICR's first dinosaur excavation significant for...

APOLOGETICS
Christ’s Providence Is Clearly Seen in Bird Migrations
Just as monkeys can’t accidently type Shakespeare texts, birds can’t migrate by evolutionary luck, despite imagined eons of time for “lucky”...

ACTS & FACTS
Creation Kids: Snowflakes
by Christy Hardy and Susan Windsor* You’re never too young to be a creation scientist! Kids, discover fun facts about God’s creation with...

ACTS & FACTS
The Gift of God Himself
Each Christmas we remember how deeply God loves us. His wondrous plan of salvation—first set in motion in the Garden of Eden—was miraculously...

ACTS & FACTS
Early Land Plant Evolution?
In a recent Science article, two evolutionists consider land plants (embryophytes) to have evolved from stoneworts (charophyte algae).1 A...

ACTS & FACTS
Biblical Creation and Intellectual Foolishness
In a recent interview discussing his new book In Quest of the Historical Adam, philosopher and Christian apologist William Lane Craig acknowledged his...

ACTS & FACTS
Are Birds “Cousins” to Reptiles?
Are today’s birds genealogical “cousins” to today’s reptiles due to a shared evolutionary ancestry? No. However, birds and...

ACTS & FACTS
Haleakala National Park: One of Many Young-Looking Volcanoes
You can start the day atop the cold peak of Mt. Haleakala and end it on a warm beach on Maui. The sprawling volcanic mountain rises 10,000 feet above...

ACTS & FACTS
The Oceans Point to a Young Earth
by Jeffrey P. Tomkins, Ph.D., and Tim Clarey, Ph.D.* Over 70% of Earth's surface is covered by water, most of which is marine and contained in...