Sources of dissolved methane in Lake Biwa

Jun Murase, Yuji Sakai, Atsuko Sugimoto, Kenji Okubo, Mitsuru Sakamoto

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

33 Citations (Scopus)


The spatial distribution and seasonal variation in the concentration and carbon isotopic composition of dissolved methane in a river-lake ecosystem were studied in Lake Biwa, Japan, and its tributary rivers. Methane concentrations in all subsystems examined were supersaturated with respect to the atmosphere. The epilimnion showed higher concentrations of dissolved methane than the hypolimnion in the pelagic zone. Peak methane concentrations were observed at the thermocline. The largest amount of methane in the pelagic water column was recorded at the end of a stagnant period, at which the bottom water of the sublittoral zone (30m in depth) exhibited increased methane concentration. Transect observation of dissolved methane revealed three methane peaks at different water depths in the lake, and river water and the sediments in littoral and sublittoral zones were suggested to be the corresponding sources. Water at the river mouth was replete with dissolved oxygen but also contained a high concentration of methane. The present results suggest that river water and littoral sediment are potential sources of dissolved methane in Lake Biwa, and other sources, such as internal waves, are responsible for increased methane in the pelagic zone at the end of stagnant periods. Carbon stable isotope analysis indicated that there were different sources of dissolved methane, although it was difficult to identify the origins due to high variation of the isotopic composition of methane from different sources.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)91-99
Number of pages9
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Aug 1 2003


  • Lake Biwa
  • Methane
  • River
  • Stable isotope
  • Surface maximum

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology
  • Aquatic Science
  • Water Science and Technology


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