Upscaling regional emissions of greenhouse gases from rice cultivation: methods and sources of uncertainty

P.H. Verburg, P.M. van Bodegom, H.A.C. Denier van der Gon, A. Bergsma, N. van Breemen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

25 Citations (Scopus)


One of the important sources of greenhouse gases is the emission of methane from rice fields. Methane emission from rice fields is the result of a complex array of soil processes involving plant-microbe interactions. The cumulative effects of these processes at the level of individual plants influence the global atmospheric composition and make it necessary to expand our research focus from small plots to large landscapes and regions. However, present extrapolations (`upscaling¿) are tenuous at best because of methodological and practical problems. The different steps taken to calculate regional emission strengths are discussed and illustrated by calculations for a case-study in the Philippines. The applicability of high quality, process-based, models of methane emission at the level of individual plants is limited for regional analysis by their large data requirements. Simplified models can be used at the regional level but are not able to capture the complex emission situation. Data availability and model accuracy are therefore often difficult to match. Other common sources of uncertainty are the quality of input data. A critical evaluation of input data should be made in every upscaling study to assess the suitability for calculating regional emissions. For the case-study we show effects of differences in input data caused by data source and interpolation technique. The results from the case-study and similar studies in literature indicate that upscaling techniques are still troublesome and a cause of large uncertainties in regional estimates. The results suggest that some of the stumbling blocks in the conventional upscaling procedure are almost impassable in the near future. Based on these results, a plea is made for meso-level measurements to calibrate and validate upscaling methods in order to be better able to quantify and reduce uncertainties in regional emission estimates
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)89-106
JournalPlant Ecology
Issue number1-2
Publication statusPublished - 2006


  • methane emissions
  • atmospheric methane
  • water management
  • ch4 emission
  • paddy soils
  • fields
  • model
  • china
  • variability
  • sensitivity

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