EPA: High Methane Emissions from a Midlatitude Reservoir

Abstract – Reservoirs are a globally significant source of methane (CH4), although most measurements have been made in tropical and boreal systems draining undeveloped watersheds. To assess the magnitude of CH4 emissions from reservoirs in midlatitude agricultural regions, we measured CH4 and carbon dioxide (CO2) emission rates from William H. Harsha Lake (Ohio, U.S.A.), an agricultural impacted reservoir, over a 13 month period. The reservoir was a strong source of CH4 throughout the year, emitting on average 176 ± 36 mg C m−2 d−1 , the highest reservoir CH4 emissions profile documented in the United States to date. Contrary to our initial hypothesis, the largest CH4 emissions were during summer stratified conditions, not during fall turnover. The river−reservoir transition zone emitted CH4 at rates an order of magnitude higher than the rest of the reservoir, and total carbon emissions (i.e., CH4 + CO2) were also greater at the transition zone, indicating that the river delta supported greater carbon mineralization rates than elsewhere. Midlatitude agricultural impacted reservoirs may be a larger source of CH4 to the atmosphere than currently recognized, particularly if river deltas are consistent CH4 hot spots. We estimate that CH4 emissions from agricultural reservoirs could be a significant component of anthropogenic CH4 emissions in the U.S.A
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