Articles | Volume 10, issue 2
Research article
26 Feb 2013
Research article |  | 26 Feb 2013

Spatial and temporal patterns of greenhouse gas emissions from Three Gorges Reservoir of China

Y. Zhao, B. F. Wu, and Y. Zeng

Abstract. Anthropogenic activity has led to significant emissions of greenhouse gas (GHG), which is thought to play important roles in global climate changes. It remains unclear about the kinetics of GHG emissions, including carbon dioxide (CO2), methane (CH4) and nitrous Oxide (N2O) from the Three Gorges Reservoir (TGR) of China, which was formed after the construction of the famous Three Gorges Dam. Here we report monthly measurements for one year of the fluxes of these gases at multiple sites within the TGR region, including three major tributaries, six mainstream sites, two downstream sites and one upstream site. The tributary areas have lower CO2 fluxes than the main storage; CH4 fluxes in the tributaries and upper reach mainstream sites are relative higher. Overall, TGR showed significantly lower CH4 emission rates than most new reservoirs in temperate and tropical regions. We attribute this to the well-oxygenated deep water and high water velocities that may facilitate the consumption of CH4. TGR's CO2 fluxes were lower than most tropical reservoirs and higher than most temperate systems. This could be explained by the high load of labile soil carbon delivered through erosion to the Yangtze River. Compared to fossil-fuelled power plants of equivalent power output, TGR is a very small GHG emitter – annual CO2-equivalent emissions are approximately 1.7% of that of a coal-fired generating plant of comparable power output.

Final-revised paper