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SOURCE: Seattle Times

DATE: September 28, 2016

SNIP: Washington State University researchers have learned that reservoirs produce much more methane, a potent greenhouse gas, than previously understood.

In their paper to be published next week in BioScience, the researchers reported that reservoirs of all sorts are important sources of the potent greenhouse-gas methane. The gas is produced by decomposing organic material underwater.

More than 1 million dams constructed globally have provided a variety of services important to people. But their environmental effects are profound, from blocked migration of fish, to impoundment of woody debris and other organic materials carried by rivers. Add to the list the generation of potent greenhouse gases, so called because they block the radiation of heat from the Earth and reradiate it to the atmosphere, raising the global average temperature of the planet.

Per molecule, methane is far more efficient at trapping and reradiating heat to the atmosphere than carbon dioxide, also adding to the importance of the findings.