Automatable Measurement of Gas Exchange Rate in Streams: Oxygen-Carbon Method

Friday, 18 December 2015
Poster Hall (Moscone South)
Robert Pennington1, Roy Haggerty1, Alba Argerich1 and Steven M Wondzell2, (1)Oregon State University, Corvallis, OR, United States, (2)USFS - Pacific Northwest Research Station, Corvallis, OR, United States
Gas exchange rates between streams and the atmosphere are critically important to measurement of in-stream ecologic processes, as well as fate and transport of hazardous pollutants such as mercury and PCBs. Methods to estimate gas exchange rates include empirical relations to hydraulics, and direct injection of a tracer gas such as propane or SF6. Empirical relations are inconsistent and inaccurate, particularly for lower order, high-roughness streams. Gas injections are labor-intensive, and measured gas exchange rates are difficult to extrapolate in time since they change with discharge and stream geometry. We propose a novel method for calculation of gas exchange rates utilizing O2, pCO2, pH, and temperature data. Measurements, which can be automated using data loggers and probes, are made on the upstream and downstream end of the study reach. Gas exchange rates are then calculated from a solution to the transport equations for oxygen and dissolved inorganic carbon. Field tests in steep, low order, high roughness streams of the HJ Andrews Experimental Forest indicate the method to be viable along stream reaches with high downstream gas concentration gradients and high rates of gas transfer velocity. Automated and continuous collection of oxygen and carbonate chemistry data is increasingly common, thus the method may be used to estimate gas exchange rates through time, and is well suited for interactivity with databases.