Tree-mendous scientific research gets funding boost
A LISMORE scientist, who for the last decade has been investigating methane gas emission on a shoestring budget, leads a team which has broken a new frontier in the global carbon cycle.
And it could mean everything we thought we knew about trees and climate change could be turned upside down.
In fact the collaborative project spearheaded by lead investigator Professor Damien Maher, from Southern Cross University's School of Environment, Science and Engineering which aims at exploring the role trees play in releasing methane from soils to the atmosphere has received $364,850 in Australian Research Council Discovery funding.
Prof Maher's research also includes leading researchers from Southern Cross University, University of Melbourne, Monash University and Western Sydney University.
He said the ARC Discovery funding for methane frontier research will have an incredible impact on this groundbreaking project.
"Our team has been exploring this research area for a couple of years on a shoestring budget," Prof Maher said.
"While we have managed to make some exciting breakthroughs, it is great to have the support from the Australian Research Council to take this research program to the next level."
Professor Maher said his team hope to reduce uncertainty in the global methane budget.
"Understanding the processes involved in the production, destruction, and accumulation of methane in the atmosphere is critical to understand the trajectory of climate change," he said.
"Methane is an extremely potent greenhouse gas, but there are significant uncertainties as to where the methane originates from.
"The research team will combine a range of techniques to unravel the plant and microbial community interactions involved in methane cycling in Australian forests.
"When we think about trees and climate change, we generally only consider how they take up carbon dioxide from the atmosphere through photosynthesis. How trees influence methane in the atmosphere has been largely overlooked."