, Volume 16, Issue 3, pp 433–445 | Cite as

Atmospheric oxygen exchange in the Hudson River: Dome measurements and comparison with other natural waters

  • Roxanne Marino
  • Robert W. Howarth


The measurement of metabolism using diel free-water oxygen techniques requires the estimation of atmospheric oxygen exchanges. We measured such exchange on nine different occasions in the freshwater, tidally-influenced Hudson River estuary using a floating dome technique. We also analyzed previously published data on the exchange of a variety of gases measured in lakes, estuaries, and open ocean waters using a wide variety of techniques. Data were expressed as a “transfer velocity” and normalized to an exchange of oxygen at 20°C. Considered together, these data indicate a significant predictive relationship when the natural log of transfer velocity is regressed with measured wind speed (r2 = 0.55; p = 0.0001). The influence of wind was particularly pronounced in estuaries and in lakes. Data from open-ocean waters showed much less influence of wind, probably because surface turbulence in these deeper waters can be temporally and spatially decoupled from wind. Our Hudson data agreed well with data collected in other systems. In general, data from estuaries—including the Hudson—indicated slightly higher transfer velocities at any given wind speed than do data from lakes (although this difference was less pronounced for our Hudson data than for other estuaries). The difference may result from some interaction of wind and tidal currents, or it may reflect a bias in the dome method of measurements; all of the estuarine data were collected using the dome approach, while the majority of the lake data were determined using an added tracer. If the dome method actually gives a biased, high estimate of oxygen flux, this is in contradiction to previous criticisms of this method that domes may underestimate fluxes by blocking wind at the water surface. We have used the regression of the natural log of transfer velocity versus wind speed developed here to estimate respiration in the Hudson estuary from diel changes in dissolved oxygen. To allow for possible biases in technique and for measurement error, we estimated 95% confidence limits around the regression. Estimates of respiration in the Hudson determined using the upper and lower 95% confidence limits are 30% higher and 12% lower than that determined when using the best-fit regression. An independently-constrained carbon budget for the tidally-influenced, freshwater Hudson River estuary indicates that respiration rates cannot be much higher than our mean estimate as calculated using the linear regression of the gas transfer and wind data to correct for air-water oxygen exchange. Gas transfer in natural systems is difficult to measure and is controlled by many interrelated physical factors. In the absence of extensive, system-specific field studies, the regression presented here should be useful in estimating atmospheric oxygen exchange in other estuarine or riverine ecosystems which are relatively deep and wide.


Wind Speed Transfer Velocity Hudson River Estuary Open Ocean Water Hudson Estuary 
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Copyright information

© Estuarine Research Federation 1993

Authors and Affiliations

  • Roxanne Marino
    • 1
  • Robert W. Howarth
    • 1
  1. 1.Section of Ecology and SystematicsCornell UniversityIthaca

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