Lakes, carbon and microbes: a hidden world

The more diverse the carbon compounds in a lake are, the more greenhouse gases it seems to emit...
25 November 2019
Presented by Chris Smith, Phil Sansom
Production by Phil Sansom.


Lake Irene in Colorado.


While forests do a great job of taking carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere, as soon as the trees decompose, all that carbon goes straight back up again. And a new study has investigated how that decomposition works inside freshwater lakes. Scientists have found that what was traditionally just called “carbon” in a lake is actually a hugely diverse mix of different carbon-based molecules, which supports an equally diverse mix of microbes. And the more diverse everything is, the more greenhouse gases these lakes seem to pump out - which could be bad news if different species of trees react differently to climate change, and drop new carbon compounds into lakes. Phil Sansom heard from the study’s author, Andrew Tanentzap...


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