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A Novel Approach To Quantify Air–Water Gas Exchange in Shallow Surface Waters Using High-Resolution Time Series of Dissolved Atmospheric Gases

Weber, Ulrich W., Cook, Peter G., Brennwald, Matthias S., Kipfer, Rolf, Stieglitz, Thomas C.
Environmental science & technology 2018 v.53 no.3 pp. 1463-1470
coastal water, dissolved gases, gas exchange, greenhouse gases, liquid-air interface, models, nitrogen, solubility, spectrometers, surface water, time series analysis, water temperature
Gas exchange across the air–water interface is a key process determining the release of greenhouse gases from surface waters and a fundamental component of gas dynamics in aquatic systems. To experimentally quantify the gas transfer velocity in a wide range of aquatic settings, a novel method based on recently developed techniques for the in situ, near-continuous measurement of dissolved (noble) gases with a field portable mass spectrometer is presented. Variations in observed dissolved gas concentrations are damped and lagged with respect to equilibrium concentrations, being the result of (a) temperature (and thus solubility) variations, (b) water depth, and (c) the specific gas transfer velocity (kᵢ). The method fits a model to the measured gas concentrations to derive the gas transfer velocity from the amplitude and the phase lag between observed and equilibrium concentrations. With the current experimental setup, the method is sensitive to gas transfer velocities of 0.05–9 m/day (for N₂), at a water depth of 1 m, and a given daily water temperature variation of 10 °C. Experiments were performed (a) in a controlled experiment to prove the concept and to confirm the capability to determine low transfer velocities and (b) in a field study in a shallow coastal lagoon covering a range of transfer velocities, demonstrating the field applicability of the method.