Meredith Holgerson (Portland State University)
The Raymond L. Lindeman Award honors a young scientist for an outstanding peer-reviewed, English-language paper in the aquatic sciences. The Association for the Sciences of Limnology and Oceanography (ASLO) has awarded Dr. Meredith Holgerson the 2018 Lindeman Award for her paper, “Large contribution to inland water CO2 and CH4 emissions from very small ponds.” Holgerson is a David Smith Conservation Research Fellow at Portland State University; the paper documents work conducted during her PhD program at Yale University. The award will be presented at the ASLO Summer Meeting in Victoria, British Columbia in June 2018.
While researchers acknowledge the importance of inland waters to the global carbon cycle, small ponds (<1,000 m2) were previously excluded from global carbon budgets because they are difficult to map and were often assumed to play a small role in greenhouse gas emissions. Holgerson and co-author Peter Raymond combined estimates of the global size distribution of lakes and ponds, gas exchange rates, and direct measurements of carbon dioxide and methane concentrations from 427 lakes and ponds in order to estimate the contribution of ponds and lakes to the global carbon budget. Their analysis shows that small ponds account for only about 9% of lakes and ponds by surface area, yet contribute approximately 15% of carbon dioxide and 41% of diffusive methane emissions from inland waters.
Very small waterbodies, such as those analyzed by Holgerson, may have previously been dismissed as inconsequential in the global carbon cycle. Holgerson’s paper is changing that view by demonstrating that collectively, these small freshwater bodies play a disproportionately large role in carbon emissions from inland waters. This discovery is an important step in understanding carbon flow on a global scale. Originally published in February 2016, the paper has already garnered 64 citations from papers in journals such as Nature, Ecological Applications, and Global Change Biology.
“Lindeman’s seminal 1942 paper was also on a small inland waterbody and although he anticipated the importance of the ‘nascent ooze’ in lake metabolism and nutrient regeneration, the idea that the ooze in small ponds could generate exceptionally high methane emissions would not be proposed for another 70+ years,” noted nominator Angela Strecker of Portland State University.
“Meredith Holgerson’s dissertation research – some of which is documented in this paper - challenges our view of small ponds as ecosystems. Given the abundance of these small waterbodies around the world, their potential to influence global cycles is vast. The impressive number of citations her paper has already received indicate that this paper will be quite impactful in our field,” said ASLO President Linda Duguay.
Holgerson, M.A. and P.A. Raymond. 2016. Large contribution to inland water CO2 and CH4 emissions from very small ponds. Nature Geoscience 9: 222-226.