Air–sea fluxes of CO2 and CH4 from the Penlee Point Atmospheric Observatory on the south-west coast of the UK
Abstract. We present air–sea fluxes of carbon dioxide (CO2), methane (CH4), momentum, and sensible heat measured by the eddy covariance method from the recently established Penlee Point Atmospheric Observatory (PPAO) on the south-west coast of the United Kingdom. Measurements from the south-westerly direction (open water sector) were made at three different sampling heights (approximately 15, 18, and 27 m above mean sea level, a.m.s.l.), each from a different period during 2014–2015. At sampling heights ≥ 18 m a.m.s.l., measured fluxes of momentum and sensible heat demonstrate reasonable ( ≤ ±20 % in the mean) agreement with transfer rates over the open ocean. This confirms the suitability of PPAO for air–sea exchange measurements in shelf regions. Covariance air–sea CO2 fluxes demonstrate high temporal variability. Air-to-sea transport of CO2 declined from spring to summer in both years, coinciding with the breakdown of the spring phytoplankton bloom. We report, to the best of our knowledge, the first successful eddy covariance measurements of CH4 emissions from a marine environment. Higher sea-to-air CH4 fluxes were observed during rising tides (20 ± 3; 38 ± 3; 29 ± 6 µmole m−2 d−1 at 15, 18, 27 m a.m.s.l.) than during falling tides (14 ± 2; 22 ± 2; 21 ± 5 µmole m−2 d−1), consistent with an elevated CH4 source from an estuarine outflow driven by local tidal circulation. These fluxes are a few times higher than the predicted CH4 emissions over the open ocean and are significantly lower than estimates from other aquatic CH4 hotspots (e.g. polar regions, freshwater). Finally, we found the detection limit of the air–sea CH4 flux by eddy covariance to be 20 µmole m−2 d−1 over hourly timescales (4 µmole m−2 d−1 over 24 h).