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A Utah State University researcher has pitched in measurements from the Intermountain West for a study that suggests we may have been overlooking a significant source of greenhouse gases.

Soren Brothers, an assistant professor in the Department of Watershed Sciences and Ecology Center at USU, became part of a 24-team study on CO2 emissions from dry riverbeds and lakebeds.

Researchers "invited me to join this international effort to measure CO2 fluxes from dried out lake beds if I was able to provide measurements from the Intermountain West United States," Brothers said. "The measurements I took ended up being the only North American data points on the global analysis.”

The large, complex dataset was evaluated at the Department of Lake Research at the Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research in Germany. The results of the study have been published in Nature Communications titled, “Global CO2 emissions from dry inland waters share common drivers across ecosystems.”

The study found significant carbon dioxide emissions from dry areas of inland waters across all climate zones, a natural progression of climate change as more surface waters are drying out and CO2 emissions increase.

“This work is opening a lot of questions regarding how well we’re accounting for our CO2 emissions to the atmosphere," Brothers said, "Particularly in places where water management practices are leading increasingly to widespread desiccation, as we’ve seen with the Great Salt Lake in Utah.”

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