Methane emissions from agricultural ponds are underestimated in national greenhouse gas inventories

Document Type


Publication Date


Journal Title

Communications Earth & Environment




Atmospheric chemistry, Biogeochemistry, Environmental impact, Limnology


Climate | Environmental Health and Protection | Fresh Water Studies | Water Resource Management


Agricultural ponds have some of the highest methane emissions per area among freshwater systems, and these anthropogenic emissions should be included in national greenhouse gas inventories. Here we deliver a continental-scale assessment of methane emissions from agricultural ponds in the United States and Australia. We source maps of agricultural ponds, compile a meta-analysis for their emissions and use published data to correct for temperature and the relative contributions of two methane fluxes (diffusion and ebullition). In the United States, 2.56 million agricultural ponds cover 420.9 kha and emit about 95.8 kt year−1 of methane. In Australia, 1.76 million agricultural ponds cover 291.2 kha and emit about 75.1 kt year−1 of methane. Despite large uncertainties, our findings suggest that small water bodies emit twice as much methane than is currently accounted for in national inventories. Managing these systems can reduce these emissions while benefiting productivity, ecosystem services, and biodiversity.