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Environ Manage. 2017 Oct;60(4):615-629. doi: 10.1007/s00267-017-0909-1. Epub 2017 Jul 21.

Methane Ebullition in Temperate Hydropower Reservoirs and Implications for US Policy on Greenhouse Gas Emissions.

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Ecology Group, Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, Richland, WA, 99352, USA.
School of Aquatic and Fishery Sciences, University of Washington, Seattle, WA, 48109, USA.
Ecology Group, Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, Richland, WA, 99352, USA.
Hydrology Group, Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, Richland, WA, 99354, USA.


The United States is home to 2198 dams actively used for hydropower production. With the December 2015 consensus adoption of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change Paris Agreement, it is important to accurately quantify anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions. Methane ebullition, or methane bubbles originating from river or lake sediments, has been shown to account for nearly all methane emissions from tropical hydropower reservoirs to the atmosphere. However, distinct ebullitive methane fluxes have been studied in comparatively few temperate hydropower reservoirs globally. This study measures ebullitive and diffusive methane fluxes from two eastern Washington reservoirs, and synthesizes existing studies of methane ebullition in temperate, boreal, and tropical hydropower reservoirs. Ebullition comprises nearly all methane emissions (>97%) from this study's two eastern Washington hydropower reservoirs to the atmosphere. Summer methane ebullition from these reservoirs was higher than ebullition in six southeastern U.S. hydropower reservoirs, however it was similar to temperate reservoirs in other parts of the world. Our literature synthesis suggests that methane ebullition from temperate hydropower reservoirs can be seasonally elevated compared to tropical climates, however annual emissions are likely to be higher within tropical climates, emphasizing the possible range of methane ebullition fluxes and the need for the further study of temperate reservoirs. Possible future changes to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and UNFCCC guidelines for national greenhouse gas inventories highlights the need for accurate assessment of reservoir emissions.


Ebullition; Greenhouse gas; Hydropower; Methane; Reservoir; Temperate

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