Aquatic Sciences

, 81:12 | Cite as

Methane dynamics in a large river: a case study of the Elbe River

  • Anna MatoušůEmail author
  • Martin Rulík
  • Michal Tušer
  • Adam Bednařík
  • Karel Šimek
  • Ingeborg Bussmann
Research Article


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.


Diffusive flux Ebullition Elbe river Methane concentration Methane oxidation rate Methane turnover time 



This work is dedicated to the memory of our friend and colleague Dr. Jan Jezbera, who supported this study by providing his knowledge, a lot of encouragement, and help during the sampling campaigns on the Elbe. This project was financially supported by project GAJU 145/2013/D, by project GAČR-13-00243S (PI-K. Šimek), and by project CZ.1.07/2.3.00/20.0204 (CEKOPOT) co-financed by the European Social Fund and the state budget of the Czech Republic. This logistically and technically challenging project would not have taken place without the great help and support of many of our colleagues! Infinite gratitude belongs to Prof. Jan Kubečka for his motivation and providing the Thor Heyerdahl research vessel, to Ing. Radka Malá and Marie Štojdlová for their technician help in the laboratory, further to Dr. Martin Blaser from the Max Planck Institute for Terrestrial Microbiology in Marburg (Germany), Dr. Vojtěch Kasalický, Dr. Jiří Nedoma, Doc. Josef Hejzlar and his colleagues, Prof. Hana Šantrůčková, Prof. Jaroslav Vrba, Jakub Matoušů, Dr. Kateřina Diáková, Dr. Jaroslava Frouzová, Mgr. Kateřina Bernardová, and Dr. Tomáš Jůza, for providing and organizing logistical support.


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© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Biology Centre CASInstitute of HydrobiologyČeské BudějoviceCzech Republic
  2. 2.Faculty of SciencesUniversity of South BohemiaČeské BudějoviceCzech Republic
  3. 3.Department of Ecology and Environmental Sciences, Faculty of SciencePalacký UniversityOlomoucCzech Republic
  4. 4.Alfred Wegener Institute Helmholtz-Zentrum für Polar-und MeeresforschungHelgolandGermany

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