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Dynamics of methane in mesotrophic Lake Biwa, Japan

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As a part of a core project of IGBP (International Geosphere-Biosphere Programme), distribution, production, oxidation and transport processes of methane in bottom sediments and lake water in a mesotrophic lake (Lake Biwa) have been studied with special reference to the spatial heterogeneity of each process. In this study, we attempted to synthesize previously reported results with newly obtained ones to depict the methane dynamics in the entire lake. The pelagic water column exhibited subsurface maxima of dissolved methane during a stratified period. Transect observation at the littoral zone suggested that horizontal transportation may be a reason for the high methane concentration in epilimnion and thermocline at the offshore area. Tributary rivers and littoral sediments were suggested to be the source. Observations also showed that the internal wave caused resuspension of the bottom sediment and release of methane from the sediment into the lake water. The impact of the internal waves was pronounced in the late stage of a stratified period. The littoral sediment showed much higher methanogenic activity than the profundal sediments, and the bottom water of the littoral sediments had little methanotrophic activity. In the profundal sediment, most of the methane that diffused up from the deeper part was oxidized when it passed through the oxic layer. Active methane oxidation was also observed in the hypolimnetic water, while the lake water in the epilimnion and thermocline showed very low methane oxidation, probably due to the inhibitory effect of light. These results mean a longer residence time for methane in the epilimnion than in the hypolimnion. Horizontal inflow of dissolved methane from the river and/or littoral sediment, together with the longer residence time in the surface water, may cause the subsurface maxima, which have also been observed in other lakes and in the ocean.

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We are grateful to the leader of our project, E. Wada (Frontier Research Center for Global Warming). We thank Captain B. Kaigai of the R/V Hassaka of University of Shiga Prefecture for his help and cooperation. We are also grateful to K. Okubo, Okayama University, for his valuable comments on internal waves in a lake. This research was financially supported by a Grant in Aid (No.11213208) from the Ministry of Education, Sports, Science, Culture, and Technology, Japan.

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Correspondence to Jun Murase.

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Murase, J., Sakai, Y., Kametani, A. et al. Dynamics of methane in mesotrophic Lake Biwa, Japan. Ecol Res 20, 377–385 (2005).

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  • Methane
  • Mesotrophic lake
  • Resuspension
  • Seiche
  • Subsurface maximum