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Year-to-year climate variability affects methane emission from paddy fields under irrigated conditions


A field experiment in Yangtze River delta of China was conducted to investigate the effects of four treatments (conventional chemical fertilizers (CF), chemical fertilizers incorporated with wheat straw (CF-WS), slow-release urea fertilizer incorporated with wheat straw (SCF-WS), and no fertilizers (Non-F)) on methane emission, rice grain yield, and straw biomass in three (2013, 2014, and 2015) consecutive growing seasons. Similar air temperature and precipitation were recorded in 2014 and 2015 normal seasons; however, the 2013 season with a 2.1–2.3 °C higher mean air temperature and a 61–64% lower precipitation than the normal seasons was considered as a warm-and-dry season.

No significant differences in seasonal total methane emissions across all treatments were observed in 2014 and 2015 seasons. Seasonal total methane emissions were 58–294% higher in 2013 season compared to 2014 and 2015 seasons, which suggests that higher ambient temperatures increase methane emissions from paddy fields. The enhanced methane emission was seen mainly during the mid-to-late growth stages after mid-season drainage. CF-WS and SCF-WS significantly increased methane emissions before mid-season drainage relative to CF, and thereby enhanced methane emissions in both normal and warm-and-dry seasons in a seasonal scale.

While rice grain yield in each treatment in 2013 season was close to or lower than that in 2014 and 2015 seasons, straw biomass in CF, CF-WS, and SCF-WS in 2013 season were significantly higher than those in 2014 and 2015 seasons, by both 29%, 33–41%, and 15–16%, respectively. Enhancements in methane emissions at higher air temperatures were significantly correlated to its greater straw biomass. Furthermore, combination of slow-release urea fertilizer and straw by ploughing can significantly increase above-ground biomass yields and nitrogen use efficiency in both normal and warm-and-dry seasons.

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We thank Mr. Guifa Chen and Mr. Zishi Fu for providing field assistance.


This study was financed by the National Natural Science Foundation of China (No. 41375157) and Shanghai Agriculture Applied Technology Development Program, China (G2016060301).

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Correspondence to Sheng Zhou.

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Sun, H., Zhou, S., Zhang, J. et al. Year-to-year climate variability affects methane emission from paddy fields under irrigated conditions. Environ Sci Pollut Res (2020). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11356-020-07951-w

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  • Methane emission
  • Paddy fields
  • Climate variability
  • Fertilizer management