Gas transfer velocities of CO2 in three European estuaries (Randers Fjord, Scheldt, and Thames)

Borges, Alberto Vieira, Bruno Delille, Laure-Sophie Schiettecatte, Frédéric Gazeau, Gwenaël Abril, Michel Frankignoulle

Limnol. Oceanogr., 49(5), 2004, 1630-1641 | DOI: 10.4319/lo.2004.49.5.1630

ABSTRACT: We measured the flux of CO2 across the air-water interface using the floating chamber method in three European estuaries with contrasting physical characteristics (Randers Fjord, Scheldt, and Thames). We computed the gas transfer velocity of CO2 (k) from the CO2 flux and concomitant measurements of the air-water gradient of the partial pressure of CO2 (pCO2). There was a significant linear relationship between k and wind speed for each of the three estuaries. The differences of the y-intercept and the slope between the three sites are related to differences in the contribution of tidal currents to water turbulence at the interface and fetch limitation. The contribution to k from turbulence generated by tidal currents is negligible in microtidal estuaries such as Randers Fjord but is substantial, at low to moderate wind speeds, in macrotidal estuaries such as the Scheldt and the Thames. Our results clearly show that in estuaries a simple parameterization of k as a function of wind speed is site specific and strongly suggest that the y-intercept of the linear relationship is mostly influenced by the contribution of tidal currents, whereas the slope is influenced by fetch limitation. This implies that substantial errors in flux computations are incurred if generic relationships of the gas transfer velocity as a function of wind speed are employed in estuarine environments for the purpose of biogas air-water flux budgets and ecosystem metabolic studies.

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