CO2 dynamics in a small and old subtropical reservoir in East Asia: Environmental controls driving seasonal and spatial variability

Sci Total Environ. 2023 Jan 15;856(Pt 1):159047. doi: 10.1016/j.scitotenv.2022.159047. Epub 2022 Sep 26.


Inland waters have been increasingly viewed as hotspots for greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions owing to their strong capability to intercept and mineralize carbon from the terrestrial environment. Although small waterbodies in humid subtropical climates have the potential to emit considerable amounts of GHG, their emission patterns have remained understudied. This study involved intensive measurements of carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions from a small reservoir and its upstream and downstream reaches located in subtropical Hong Kong. Our results revealed that a variety of metabolic, hydrological, and hydrochemical processes play a critical role in regulating its CO2 dynamics. The reservoir was an overall source of CO2 to the atmosphere with an average areal flux of 24.6 mmol m-2 d-1, and it occasionally functioned as a sink for atmospheric CO2 under intense solar radiation when primary productivity was high. This flux is on the low side relative to that of global (sub)tropical reservoirs, which was likely attributable to the prolonged history of the reservoir (>150 years) and the occasional undersaturation of CO2 in the water column. We also noticed pronounced differences in the underlying controls of CO2 dynamics between the reservoir and its upstream and downstream reaches, emphasizing the importance of taking into account the distinct characteristics of both lentic and lotic waters when evaluating catchment-scale CO2 fluxes.

Keywords: Carbon dioxide (CO(2)) emissions; Climate change; Metabolism; Seasonal variability; Spatial variability; Subtropical reservoirs.

MeSH terms

  • Carbon Dioxide* / analysis
  • Environmental Monitoring / methods
  • Greenhouse Gases* / analysis
  • Methane / analysis
  • Seasons


  • Carbon Dioxide
  • Methane
  • Greenhouse Gases