We conducted multiple small (2011–2012) and one large sampling campaign (2013) at selected profiles along the Elbe River. With the data we were able to outline spatial and temporal variability of methane concentration, oxidation and emissions in one of the major rivers of Central Europe. The highest methane concentrations were found in human-altered riverine habitats, i.e., in a harbor (1,888 nmol L−1), in a lock and weirs (1409 ± 1545 nmol L−1), and in general in the whole “impounded” river segment (383 ± 215 nmol L−1). On the other hand, the lowest methane concentrations were found in the “lowland” river segment (86 ± 56 nmol L−1). The methane oxidation rate was more efficient in the “natural” segment (71 ± 113 nmol L−1day−1, which means a turnover time of 49 ± 83 day−1) than in the “lowland” segment (4 ± 3 nmol L−1day−1, which means a turnover time of 39 ± 45 day−1). Methane emissions from the surface water into the atmosphere ranged from 0.4 to 11.9 mg m−2 day−1 (mean 2.1 ± 0.6 mg m−2 day−1) with the highest CH4 emissions at the Meissen harbor (94 kg CH4 year−1). Such human-altered riverine habitats (i.e., harbors and similar) have not been taken into consideration in the CH4 budget before, despite them being part of the river ecosystems, they may be significant CH4 hot-spots. The total CH4 diffusive flux from the whole Elbe was estimated to be approximately 97 t CH4 year−1.
EPIC Alfred Wegener Institut