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Continuous Seasonal River Ebullition Measurements Linked to Sediment Methane Formation

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journal contribution
posted on 17.11.2015, 00:00 by Jeremy Wilkinson, Andreas Maeck, Zeyad Alshboul, Andreas Lorke
Laboratory sediment incubations and continuous ebullition monitoring over an annual cycle in the temperate Saar River, Germany confirm that impounded river zones can produce and emit methane at high rates (7 to 30 (g CH4 m–3 d–1) at 25 °C and 270 to 700 (g CH4 m–2 yr–1), respectively). Summer methane ebullition (ME) peaks were a factor of 4 to 10 times the winter minima, and sediment methane formation was dominated by the upper sediment (depths of 0.14 to 0.2 m). The key driver of the seasonal ME dynamics was temperature. An empirical model relating methane formation to temperature and sediment depth, derived from the laboratory incubations, reproduced the measured daily ebullition from winter to midsummer, although late summer and autumn simulated ME exceeded the observed ME. A possible explanation for this was substrate limitation. We recommend measurements of methanogenically available carbon sources to identify substrate limitation and help characterize variation in methane formation with depth and from site to site.