Substantial overnight reaeration by convective cooling discovered in pond ecosystems

Holgerson, Meredith A.; Zappa, Christopher J.; Raymond, Peter A.

Trends in freshwater dissolved oxygen (DO) reflect whole-ecosystem properties and influence organismal survival and behavior. Here we show that small ponds have unique oxygen dynamics that differ from larger lakes. We discovered that ponds undersaturated in DO experienced substantial increases in oxygen concentration overnight. Nighttime increases in DO occurred on 45% of the nights sampled and resulted in DO saturation increasing 12-fold (22% saturation) on average. Oxygen spikes were likely to occur when ponds became at least 1.8°C warmer than the air and later in the season when oxygen levels were low (<31% saturation) and the air was warm (≥5.8°C). We demonstrate that overnight increases in surface water DO resulted from atmospheric oxygen invasion as opposed to internal production. Convective cooling enhanced turbulence and air-water gas exchange, leading to intense bursts of oxygen invasion during nighttime hours. This mechanism has not been demonstrated before and has important implications for the biogeochemistry of these systems, as well as understanding how organisms survive in hypoxic small ponds.


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Also Published In

Geophysical Research Letters

More About This Work

Academic Units
Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory
Ocean and Climate Physics
Published Here
January 14, 2022