Effects of Temperature and Light on Methane Production of Widespread Marine Phytoplankton

Gernot.Nehrke [ at ] awi.de


Methane (CH4) production in the ocean surface mixed layer is a widespread but still largely unexplained phenomenon. In this context marine algae have recently been described as a possible source of CH4 in surface waters. In the present study we investigated the effects of temperature and light intensity (including daylength) on CH4 formation from three widespread marine algal species Emiliania huxleyi, Phaeocystis globosa, and Chrysochromulina sp. Rates of E. huxleyi increased by 210% when temperature increased in a range from 10°C to 21.5°C, while a further increase in temperature (up to 23.8°C) showed reduction of CH4 production rates. Our results clearly showed that CH4 formation of E. huxleyi is controlled by light: When light intensity increased from 30 to 2,670 μmol m−2 s−1, CH4 emission rates increased continuously by almost 1 order of magnitude and was more than 1 order of magnitude higher when the daylength (light period) was extended from 6/18 hr light‐dark cycle to continuous light. Furthermore, light intensity is also an important factor controlling CH4 emissions of Chrysochromulina sp. and P. globosa and could therefore be a species‐independent regulator of phytoplankton CH4 production. Based on our results, we might conclude that extensive blooms of E. huxleyi could act as a main regional source of CH4 in surface water, since blooming of E. huxleyi is related to the seasonal increase in both light and temperature, which also stimulate CH4 production. Under typical global change scenarios, E. huxleyi will increase its CH4 production in the future.

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DOI 10.1029/2020JG005793

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Klintzsch, T. , Langer, G. , Wieland, A. , Geisinger, H. , Lenhart, K. , Nehrke, G. and Keppler, F. (2020): Effects of Temperature and Light on Methane Production of Widespread Marine Phytoplankton , Journal of Geophysical Research: Biogeosciences, 125 (9) . doi: 10.1029/2020JG005793

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