Wave-induced release of methane: Littoral zones as source of methane in lakes

Hofmann, Hilmar, Luisa Federwisch, and Frank Peeters

Limnol. Oceanogr., 55(5), 2010, 1990-2000 | DOI: 10.4319/lo.2010.55.5.1990

ABSTRACT: This study investigates the role of surface waves and the associated disturbance of littoral sediments for the release and later distribution of dissolved methane in lakes. Surface wave field, wave-induced currents, acoustic backscatter strength, and the concentration and distribution of dissolved methane were measured simultaneously in Lake Constance, Germany. The data indicate that surface waves enhance the release of dissolved methane in the shallow littoral zone via burst-like releases of methane during the passage of wave groups. The amount of released methane depends on the surface wave field and the water temperature that controls the methane production in the sediments. The dissolved methane concentrations in the shallow littoral zone were always higher than concentrations in the deep water and open water, while methane concentrations in the epilimnion were typically higher than methane concentrations in the metalimnion and upper hypolimnion. The relatively high epilimnetic methane concentrations in the pelagial can be explained by lateral transport of methane from the littoral zone to the pelagic zone. Littoral zones can thus be an important source of methane in lakes. Methane released by surface waves from littoral sediments may cause elevated near-surface methane concentrations in large areas that enhance the flux of methane at the air-water interface and, thus, the overall methane emissions from lakes to the atmosphere.

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