High-frequency measurements of photosynthesis of planktonic algae using rugged nondispersive infrared carbon dioxide probes

Pertti Hari, Jukka Pumpanen, Jussi Huotari, Pasi Kolari, John Grace, Timo Vesala,Anne Ojala

Limnol. Oceanogr. Methods 6:347-354 (2008) | DOI: 10.4319/lom.2008.6.347

ABSTRACT: We have constructed a system based on commercially available inexpensive NDIR CO2 sensors to continuously monitor CO2 concentrations in water bodies. Here we demonstrate its use in a boreal humic lake. With the system, we collect high frequency data with a 10-min time resolution for determination of CO2 consumption and production. We use and modify the computational methods commonly used in forest ecology to enable characterization of aquatic primary production. To demonstrate the advantages of the method, we present the results against the observations from the long-term monitoring program applying traditional bottle methods. With the probes, we can detect a clear, photosynthesis-driven daily pattern in the CO2 concentration and determine the CO2 consumption or production resulting in more than a 10-fold improvement in the time resolution when compared with traditional incubation methods. The measuring frequency is high enough to determine the dependence of photosynthesis on irradiance. The high-frequency data highlights the inherent problems of discrete bottle incubations and bring into question their reliability. Our free water approach yielded productivity and mineralization rates that were clearly higher than obtained with incubations.