Understanding peat's ability to trap methane bubbles
Peat soils make up one third of the global soil carbon pool, and provide one of the largest natural sources of atmospheric methane. Bubbles of methane, an important greenhouse gas, are produced by the decomposition of peat underwater. The bubbles increase in size until their buoyancy exceeds the forces keeping them in place, at which point the methane bubbles move upward through the soil and are released at the surface in what is known as an ebullition event. Ebullition events may account for a large proportion of methane lost from peatlands.
To learn more about the factors contributing to the ability of peat to trap gas bubbles, Kettridge and Binley used X-ray computed tomography to produce detailed high resolution 3D images of a wide range of peat samples composed of different plant species at varying levels of decomposition. They used simulations to predict the pathways that different bubbles could take through the imaged samples and identify the potential of the peat to trap bubbles. The research shows that the ability of peat to trap gas depends on both the constituents of the peat and how these constituents are spatially arranged. Peat samples with longer structural components trapped gas more readily than those with shorter components, demonstrating the need to incorporate some representation of peat structure into models of gas bubble transport.
"Characterization of peat structure using X-ray computed tomography and its control on the ebullition of biogenic gas bubbles" VOL. 116, G01024, 11 PP., 2011 doi:10.1029/2010JG001478
Mon 09 May 2011
A Faculty team representing science, technology, engineering and maths took part in EDF Energy's 'Science Day' on Saturday 21st March at Heysham Power Station.
Wed 25 March 2015
Professor Roger Jones has replaced Professor Peter Ratoff as Head of the Physics Department. Roger gained a PhD studying neutrino interactions at CERN and Fermilab before starting his career at CERN working at the Large Electron-Positron (LEP) Collider.
Tue 24 March 2015
As part of British Science week, 170 students from 14 schools across the region came to Lancaster University on Wednesday 18th March to compete in science, technology, engineering and mathematics challenges.
Mon 23 March 2015
Lancaster University’s new flagship Engineering Building will provide a beacon of excellence for research and recruitment for the UK’s buoyant and significant engineering industry.
Mon 23 March 2015