Carbon dioxide and methane dynamics in a human-dominated lowland coastal river network (Shanghai, China)

Zhongjie Yu, Dongqi Wang, Yangjie Li, Huanguang Deng, Beibei Hu, Mingwu Ye, Xuhui Zhou, Liangjun Da, Zhenlou Chen, Shiyuan Xu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Evasion of carbon dioxide (CO2) and methane (CH4) in streams and rivers play a critical role in global carbon (C) cycle, offsetting the C uptake by terrestrial ecosystems. However, little is known about CO2 and CH4 dynamics in lowland coastal rivers profoundly modified by anthropogenic perturbations. Here we report results from a long-term, large-scale study of CO2 and CH4 partial pressures (pCO2 and pCH4) and evasion rates in the Shanghai river network. The spatiotemporal variabilities of pCO2 and pCH4 were examined along a land use gradient, and the annual CO2 and CH4 evasion were estimated to assess its role in regional C budget. During the study period (August 2009 to October 2011), the overall mean pCO2 and median pCH4 from 87 surveyed rivers were 5846 ± 2773 μatm and 241 μatm, respectively. Internal metabolic CO2 production and dissolved inorganic carbon input via upstream runoff were the major sources sustaining the widespread CO2 supersaturation, coupling pCO2 to biogeochemical and hydrological controls, respectively. While CH4 was oversaturated throughout the river network, CH4 hot spots were concentrated in the small urban rivers and highly discharge-dependent. The Shanghai river network played a disproportionately important role in regional C budget, offsetting up to 40% of the regional terrestrial net ecosystem production and 10% of net C uptake in the river-dominated East China Sea fueled by anthropogenic nutrient input. Given the rapid urbanization in global coastal areas, more research is needed to quantify the role of lowland coastal rivers as a major landscape C source in global C budget.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1738-1758
Number of pages21
JournalJournal of Geophysical Research: Biogeosciences
Issue number7
StatePublished - Jul 2017
Externally publishedYes


  • Shanghai river network
  • carbon dioxide
  • coastal area
  • land use change
  • methane

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Forestry
  • Aquatic Science
  • Ecology
  • Water Science and Technology
  • Soil Science
  • Atmospheric Science
  • Palaeontology


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