NEW HAVEN, Conn., Oct. 17 (UPI) -- Streams and rivers release significant carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, which needs to be taken into account in climate modeling, U.S. researchers say.
The research by Yale University scientists could change how scientists investigate the movement of carbon between land, water and the atmosphere, a release from the Ivy League school in Connecticut said Monday.
"These rivers breathe a lot of carbon," David Butman at the university's School of Forestry & Environmental Studies said. "They are a source of CO2, just like we breathe CO2 and like smokestacks emit CO2, and this has never been systematically estimated from a region as large as the United States."
A significant amount of carbon contained in land, which was first absorbed from the air by plants and forests, is moving into streams and rivers and then released into the atmosphere before reaching coastal waterways, the researchers said.
They analyzed samples taken from more than 4,000 rivers and streams throughout the United States.
"What we are able to show is that there is a source of atmospheric CO2 from streams and rivers, and that it is significant enough for terrestrial modelers to take note of it," Butman said.