Urban landscapes and legacy industry provide hotspots for riverine greenhouse gases: a source-to-sea study of the River Clyde

Brown, A. M., Bass, A. M. , Skiba, U., MacDonald, J. M. and Pickard, A. E. (2023) Urban landscapes and legacy industry provide hotspots for riverine greenhouse gases: a source-to-sea study of the River Clyde. Water Research, 236, 119969. (doi: 10.1016/j.watres.2023.119969) (PMID:37099862)

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There is growing global concern that greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from water bodies are increasing because of interactions between nutrient levels and climate warming. This paper investigates key land-cover, seasonal and hydrological controls of GHGs by comparison of the semi-natural, agricultural and urban environments in a detailed source-to-sea study of the River Clyde, Scotland. Riverine GHG concentrations were consistently oversaturated with respect to the atmosphere. High riverine concentrations of methane (CH4) were primarily associated with point source inflows from urban wastewater treatment, abandoned coal mines and lakes, with CH4-C concentrations between 0.1 - 44 µg l−1. Concentrations of carbon dioxide (CO2) and nitrous oxide (N2O) were mainly driven by nitrogen concentrations, dominated by diffuse agricultural inputs in the upper catchment and supplemented by point source inputs from urban wastewater in the lower urban catchment, with CO2-C concentrations between 0.1 - 2.6 mg l−1 and N2O-N concentrations between 0.3 - 3.4 µg l−1. A significant and disproportionate increase in all GHGs occurred in the lower urban riverine environment in the summer, compared to the semi-natural environment, where GHG concentrations were higher in winter. This increase and change in GHG seasonal patterns points to anthropogenic impacts on microbial communities. The loss of total dissolved carbon, to the estuary is approximately 48.4 ± 3.6 Gg C yr−1, with the annual inorganic carbon export approximately double that of organic carbon and four times that of CO2, with CH4 accounting for 0.03%, with the anthropogenic impact of disused coal mines accelerating DIC loss. The annual loss of total dissolved nitrogen to the estuary is approximately 4.03 ± 0.38 Gg N yr−1 of which N2O represents 0.06%. This study improves our understanding of riverine GHG generation and dynamics which can contribute to our knowledge of their release to the atmosphere. It identifies where action could support reductions in aquatic GHG generation and emission.

Item Type:Articles
Additional Information:This work was financially supported by Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) studentship through the IAPETUS 2 Doctoral Training Partnership Grant No. NE/S007431/1.
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Brown, Alison and MacDonald, Dr John and Bass, Dr Adrian
Authors: Brown, A. M., Bass, A. M., Skiba, U., MacDonald, J. M., and Pickard, A. E.
College/School:College of Science and Engineering > School of Geographical and Earth Sciences
Journal Name:Water Research
ISSN (Online):1879-2448
Published Online:12 April 2023
Copyright Holders:Copyright © 2023 The Authors
First Published:First published in Water Research 236:119969
Publisher Policy:Reproduced under a Creative Commons License

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