Identifying scale-emergent, nonlinear, asynchronous processes of wetland methane exchange

Cove Sturtevant, Benjamin L. Ruddell, Sara Helen Knox, Joseph Verfaillie, Jaclyn Hatala Matthes, Patricia Y. Oikawa, Dennis Baldocchi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

94 Scopus citations


Methane (CH4) exchange in wetlands is complex, involving nonlinear asynchronous processes across diverse time scales. These processes and time scales are poorly characterized at the whole-ecosystem level, yet are crucial for accurate representation of CH4 exchange in process models. We used a combination of wavelet analysis and information theory to analyze interactions between whole-ecosystem CH4 flux and biophysical drivers in two restored wetlands of Northern California from hourly to seasonal time scales, explicitly questioning assumptions of linear, synchronous, single-scale analysis. Although seasonal variability in CH4 exchange was dominantly and synchronously controlled by soil temperature, water table fluctuations, and plant activity were important synchronous and asynchronous controls at shorter time scales that propagated to the seasonal scale. Intermittent, subsurface water table decline promoted short-term pulses of methane emission but ultimately decreased seasonal CH4 emission through subsequent inhibition after rewetting. Methane efflux also shared information with evapotranspiration from hourly to multiday scales and the strength and timing of hourly and diel interactions suggested the strong importance of internal gas transport in regulating short-term emission. Traditional linear correlation analysis was generally capable of capturing the major diel and seasonal relationships, but mesoscale, asynchronous interactions and nonlinear, cross-scale effects were unresolved yet important for a deeper understanding of methane flux dynamics. We encourage wider use of these methods to aid interpretation and modeling of long-term continuous measurements of trace gas and energy exchange.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)188-204
Number of pages17
JournalJournal of Geophysical Research: Biogeosciences
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 2016
Externally publishedYes


  • biosphere-atmosphere interactions
  • dynamical process networks
  • eddy covariance
  • methane
  • multiresolution analysis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Water Science and Technology
  • Forestry
  • Aquatic Science
  • Soil Science
  • Palaeontology
  • Ecology
  • Atmospheric Science


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