Gas Exchange over Aquatic Interfaces and its Importance for Greenhouse Gas Emission

  • Datum: 20 januari, kl. 09.15
  • Plats: Ekmansalen, EBC, Norbyvägen 14, Uppsala
  • Doktorand: Kokic, Jovana
  • Om avhandlingen
  • Arrangör: Limnologi
  • Kontaktperson: Kokic, Jovana
  • Disputation


Aquatic ecosystems play a substantial role in global cycling of carbon (C), despite covering only about 4% of the earth surface. They emit large amounts of greenhouse gases (GHG) to the atmosphere, comparable to the amount of C stored annually in terrestrial ecosystems. In addition, C can be buried in lake sediments. Headwater systems are located at the interface of the terrestrial and aquatic environment, and are first in line to process terrestrial C and throughout its journey through the aquatic continuum. The uncertainties in global estimates of aquatic GHG emissions are largely related to these headwater systems, as they are highly variable in time and space, and underrepresented in global assessments. The overall aim of this thesis was therefore to study GHG exchange between sediment, water and air in headwater systems, from both an ecosystem perspective and at the small scale of physical drivers of gas exchange.

This thesis demonstrates that carbon dioxide (CO2) emission from headwater systems, especially streams, was the main pathway of C loss from surface waters from a lake catchment. Of the total aquatic CO2-emission of the catchment, 65% originated from stream systems that covered only 0.1% of the total catchment area. The gas transfer velocity (k) was the main driver of stream CO2-emission, but there was a high variability in k on small spatial scales (meters). This variability may have implications for upscaling GHG emissions, especially when using scaled k estimates. Lake sediments only contributed 16% to total lake C emission, but in reality, sediment C emission is probably even lower because experimentally determined sediment C flux returns high estimates that are biased since artificially induced turbulence enhances C flux rates beyond in-situ conditions. When sediment C flux is estimated in-situ, in natural bottom water turbulence conditions, flux rates were lower than those estimated experimentally.

Conclusively, this thesis shows that GHG emissions from small aquatic ecosystems are dominant over other aquatic C fluxes and that our current knowledge regarding the physical processes controlling gas exchange from different small aquatic systems is limited, implying an inherent uncertainty of GHG emission estimates from small aquatic ecosystems.