Gavin McNicol

CNI Fellow - Class of 2015

Graduate Student, Environmental Science, Policy, and Management
UC Berkeley


Quantifying Methane Emissions via Ebullition in Restored California Wetlands


This project investigates emission rates of the greenhouse gas methane from restored wetlands in the Sacramento Delta. Unlike many other wetland studies, the research focuses on methane emissions via bubbling events (ebullition) that are episodic and therefore hard to quantify. Using a highly replicated sampling campaign, the study aims to produce statistically robust estimates of weekly, seasonal and annual wetland methane ebullition, and to understand their spatial dynamics. The findings will inform protocols for optimal carbon management in wetlands.


Our first goal was to estimate average ebullition rates for the wetland, and understand how rates of release varied in space and time. Our second goal was to test the hypothesis that methane would be a fixed fraction of bubble content and estimate an annual release rate of methane via ebullition. Our third goal was to contribute to the broader interagency and interdisciplinary efforts in the Sacramento Delta to help inform management of the subsiding agricultural peatlands via wetland restoration.

Future Plans

We have now collected the complete field data set. Our next steps are to complete statistical analysis of the data to test our project hypotheses, then write and submit a manuscript to a peer-reviewed journal that also will form a chapter of my doctoral thesis. We also plan to present results from this project at the 100th Ecological Society of America meeting in August 2015 and to disseminate key findings among our collaborators at the California Department of Water Resources and at UC Berkeley.


Whendee L Silver and Dennis D. Baldocchi, UC Berkeley; and Byran Brock, California Department of Water Resources