Dissolved methane in Indian freshwater reservoirs
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Emission of methane (CH4), a potent greenhouse gas, from tropical reservoirs is of interest because such reservoirs experience conducive conditions for CH4 production through anaerobic microbial activities. It has been suggested that Indian reservoirs have the potential to emit as much as 33.5 MT of CH4 per annum to the atmosphere. However, this estimate is based on assumptions rather than actual measurements. We present here the first data on dissolved CH4 concentrations from eight freshwater reservoirs in India, most of which experience seasonal anaerobic conditions and CH4 buildup in the hypolimnia. However, strong stratification prevents the CH4-rich subsurface layers to ventilate CH4 directly to the atmosphere, and surface water CH4 concentrations in these reservoirs are generally quite low (0.0028-0.305 µM). Moreover, only in two small reservoirs substantial CH4 accumulation occurred at depths shallower than the level where water is used for power generation and irrigation, and in the only case where measurements were made in the outflowing water, CH4 concentrations were quite low. In conjunction with short periods of CH4 accumulation and generally lower concentrations than previously assumed, our study implies that CH4 emission from Indian reservoirs has been greatly overestimated.
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