Extensive measuring campaign starts at River Kitinen in Sodankyla

HelsinkiUniv's picture
Minna Meriläinen-Tenhu
It is an established fact that rivers, like lakes, are sources for carbon dioxide and methane. However, which factors impact the exchange of hothouse gases between water and atmosphere has not been studied closer. The scientists are promising new results by late autumn.

The Institute for Atmospheric and Earth System Research (INAR) at the University of Helsinki has started an extensive river-measuring campaign at River Kitinen in Sodankylä in cooperation with the Finnish Meteorological Institute. The campaign will go on to the end of September. The campaign is based on the fact that most rivers, like lakes, are sources of hothouse gases, especially carbon dioxide and methane. The mechanisms for gas exchange in rivers are not understood quite yet, and thus we do not know how significant this source for hothouse gases is globally.

How significant are rivers as sources for hothouse gases?

"Kitinen was a natural choice for measurements, since the study of northern ecosystems is becoming increasingly important," says Academy Professor Timo Vesala, who is the leader of the campaign.

"The river is large enough for us to build a measurement raft on it. And the nearby Sodankylä geophysical observatory and Meteorological Institute unit offer us good facilities both for measurements and scientists," says Kukka-Maaria Erkkilä, who is preparing her doctoral thesis on this research for the University of Helsinki.

The data from Kit­inen can also be used for global car­bon-cir­cu­la­tion and cli­mate mod­els

The campaign will study the occurrence of hothouse gases in the air and water, the flow and turbulence of water, and the temperature of water at various depths. It is geared at understanding the biological, physical, and meteorological factors that affect the flux of gases between water and atmosphere. This information may be utilised for global carbon-cycle and climate models. The measuruments from Kitinen also support the development of the work within the Integrated Carbon Observation System (ICOS) in Europe, where waterways are underrepresented.

Understanding the biological, physical, and meteorological factors

This measuring campaign is globally rare and requires extended international collaboration in addition to the Finnish partners; scientists from the University of Eastern Finland, from the German Research Centre for Geosciences in Potsdam and Koblenz-Landau university in Germany, the universities of Lund, Linköping, and Uppsala in Sweden, University of California, Santa Barbara in the USA, the University of Moscow in Russia, and the University of Southampton in Great Britain are participating.

The results of the campaign will be published globally by the end of this year.

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