Emissions of Methyl Halides and Methane from Rice Paddies

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Science  03 Nov 2000:
Vol. 290, Issue 5493, pp. 966-969
DOI: 10.1126/science.290.5493.966

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Methyl halide gases are important sources of atmospheric inorganic halogen compounds, which in turn are central reactants in many stratospheric and tropospheric chemical processes. By observing emissions of methyl chloride, methyl bromide, and methyl iodide from flooded California rice fields, we estimate the impact of rice agriculture on the atmospheric budgets of these gases. Factors influencing methyl halide emissions are stage of rice growth, soil organic content, halide concentrations, and field-water management. Extrapolating our data implies that about 1 percent of atmospheric methyl bromide and 5 percent of methyl iodide arise from rice fields worldwide. Unplanted flooded fields emit as much methyl chloride as planted, flooded rice fields.

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