Including methane emissions from agricultural ponds in national greenhouse gas inventories

Document Type


Publication Date


Journal Title

Environmental Science and Technology


Print: 0013-936X Electronic: 1520-5851


farm dams, agricultural ponds, agricultural reservoirs, impoundments, dugouts, eutrophication, inland wetlands, methane ebullition, national inventory reports


Climate | Natural Resources and Conservation | Water Resource Management


Agricultural ponds are a significant source of greenhouse gases, contributing to the ongoing challenge of anthropogenic climate change. Nations are encouraged to account for these emissions in their national greenhouse gas inventory reports. We present a remote sensing approach using open-access satellite imagery to estimate total methane emissions from agricultural ponds that account for (1) monthly fluctuations in the surface area of individual ponds, (2) rates of historical accumulation of agricultural ponds, and (3) the temperature dependence of methane emissions. As a case study, we used this method to inform the 2024 National Greenhouse Gas Inventory reports submitted by the Australian government, in compliance with the Paris Agreement. Total annual methane emissions increased by 58% from 1990 (26 kilotons CH4 year–1) to 2022 (41 kilotons CH4 year–1). This increase is linked to the water surface of agricultural ponds growing by 51% between 1990 (115 kilo hectares; 1,150 km2) and 2022 (173 kilo hectares; 1,730 km2). In Australia, 16,000 new agricultural ponds are built annually, expanding methane-emitting water surfaces by 1,230 ha yearly (12.3 km2 year–1). On average, the methane flux of agricultural ponds in Australia is 0.238 t CH4 ha–1 year–1. These results offer policymakers insights into developing targeted mitigation strategies to curb these specific forms of anthropogenic emissions. For instance, financial incentives, such as carbon or biodiversity credits, can mobilize widespread investments toward reducing greenhouse gas emissions and enhancing the ecological and environmental values of agricultural ponds. Our data and modeling tools are available on a free cloud-based platform for other countries to adopt this approach.