Technical Note: A simple method for air–sea gas exchange measurements in mesocosms and its application in carbon budgeting
- GEOMAR – Helmholtz Centre for Ocean Research Kiel, 24105 Kiel, Germany
Abstract. Mesocosms as large experimental units provide the opportunity to perform elemental mass balance calculations, e.g. to derive net biological turnover rates. However, the system is in most cases not closed at the water surface and gases exchange with the atmosphere. Previous attempts to budget carbon pools in mesocosms relied on educated guesses concerning the exchange of CO2 with the atmosphere. Here, we present a simple method for precise determination of air–sea gas exchange in mesocosms using N2O as a deliberate tracer. Beside the application for carbon budgeting, transfer velocities can be used to calculate exchange rates of any gas of known concentration, e.g. to calculate aquatic production rates of climate relevant trace gases. Using an arctic KOSMOS (Kiel Off Shore Mesocosms for future Ocean Simulation) experiment as an exemplary dataset, it is shown that the presented method improves accuracy of carbon budget estimates substantially. Methodology of manipulation, measurement, data processing and conversion to CO2 fluxes are explained. A theoretical discussion of prerequisites for precise gas exchange measurements provides a guideline for the applicability of the method under various experimental conditions.