Articles | Volume 13, issue 12
Research article
22 Jun 2016
Research article |  | 22 Jun 2016

Effect of sporadic destratification, seasonal overturn, and artificial mixing on CH4 emissions from a subtropical hydroelectric reservoir

Frédéric Guérin, Chandrashekhar Deshmukh, David Labat, Sylvie Pighini, Axay Vongkhamsao, Pierre Guédant, Wanidaporn Rode, Arnaud Godon, Vincent Chanudet, Stéphane Descloux, and Dominique Serça

Abstract. Inland waters in general and freshwater reservoirs specifically are recognized as a source of CH4 into the atmosphere. Although the diffusion at the air–water interface is the most studied pathway, its spatial and temporal variations are poorly documented.

We measured temperature and O2 and CH4 concentrations every 2 weeks for 3.5 years at nine stations in a subtropical monomictic reservoir which was flooded in 2008 (Nam Theun 2 Reservoir, Lao PDR). Based on these results, we quantified CH4 storage in the water column and diffusive fluxes from June 2009 to December 2012. We compared diffusive emissions with ebullition from Deshmukh et al. (2014) and aerobic methane oxidation and downstream emissions from Deshmukh et al. (2016).

In this monomictic reservoir, the seasonal variations of CH4 concentration and storage were highly dependent on the thermal stratification. Hypolimnic CH4 concentration and CH4 storage reached their maximum in the warm dry season (WD) when the reservoir was stratified. Concentration and storage decreased during the warm wet (WW) season and reached its minimum after the reservoir overturned in the cool dry (CD) season. The sharp decreases in CH4 storage were concomitant with extreme diffusive fluxes (up to 200 mmol m−2 d−1). These sporadic emissions occurred mostly in the inflow region in the WW season and during overturn in the CD season in the area of the reservoir that has the highest CH4 storage. Although they corresponded to less than 10 % of the observations, these extreme CH4 emissions (> 5 mmol m−2 d−1) contributed up to 50 % of total annual emissions by diffusion.

During the transition between the WD and WW seasons, a new emission hotspot was identified upstream of the water intake where diffusive fluxes peaked at 600 mmol m−2 d−1 in 2010 down to 200 mmol m−2 d−1 in 2012. The hotspot was attributed to the mixing induced by the water intakes (artificial mixing). Emissions from this area contributed 15–25 % to total annual emissions, although they occur in a surface area representative of less than 1 % of the total reservoir surface. We highly recommend measurements of diffusive fluxes around water intakes in order to evaluate whether such results can be generalized.

Short summary
Methane (CH4) emissions from hydroelectric reservoirs could represent a significant fraction of global CH4 emissions from inland waters. The monitoring of methane emissions every 2 weeks at nine stations in a subtropical hydroelectric reservoir revealed that emissions could occasionally be 1 to 2 orders of magnitude higher than expected for these man-made ecosystems. Upstream of the water intake, emissions are enhanced by the water column mixing that upwells CH4-rich water to the surface.
Final-revised paper