US Long-Term Ecological Research Network
Carbon dioxide supersaturation in the surface waters of lakes
Year of Publication
Number of Pages
Data on the partial pressure of carbon dioxide (C02 ) in the surface waters from a large number of lakes (1835) with a worldwide distribution show that only a small proportion of the 4665 samples analyzed (less than 1 0 percent) were within ±20 percent of equilibrium with the atmosphere and that most samples (87 percent) were supersaturated. The mean partial pressure of C02 averaged 1036 microatmospheres, about three times the value in the overlying atmosphere, indicating that lakes are sources rather than sinks of atmospheric C02 . On a global scale, the potential efflux of C02 from lakes (about 0.14 x 1015 grams of carbon per year) is about half as large as riverine transport of organic plus inorganic carbon to the ocean. Lakes are a small but potentially important conduit for carbon from terrestrial sources to the atmospheric sink.