National Oceanic and
Atmospheric Administration
United States Department of Commerce


FY 2004

Study of dissolved chlorofluorocarbons in Lake Washington

Han, L., J.L. Bullister, and D.P. Wisegarver

Chinese J. Oceanol. Limnol., 21(2), 171–179, doi: 10.1007/BF02843148 (2003)

Measurements of three chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs): trichlorofluoromethane (CFC-11), dichlorodifluoromethane (CFC-12) and trichlorotrifluoroethane (CFC-113), along with methyl chloroform (CH3CCl3) and carbon tetrachloride (CCl4) were made in water samples from Lake Washington, using Electron Capture-Gas Chromatography (EC-GC). The samples were collected in mid-autumn, a period when the lake’s upper layer undergoes rapid cooling. At the time of sampling, a strong vertical temperature gradient was present in the lake, with surface temperatures of ~14°C, and near bottom (50 meters) temperatures of ~8°C. The concentrations of dissolved CFC-12 and CFC-11 increased with depth, as expected from the higher solubilities of these gases at lower temperatures. Atmospheric measurements made at the sampling site at the time of the cruise, showed that CFC-11 and CFC-12 saturations in the near surface samples were 100% and 106%, respectively. For the deepest sample (52 meters) CFC-11 and CFC-12 saturations were 102% and 126%. Because the surface layer of the lake responds to changes in atmospheric CFCs on a time scale of several weeks, the higher than equilibrium concentrations of CFC-12 observed at the time of sampling may reflect earlier episodes of elevated levels of atmospheric CFC-12 in this urban area. High concentrations of dissolved CFCs in runoff or industrial effluent might also lead to elevated CFC levels in the lake. The cold, deep water of Lake Washington is relatively isolated from the effects of surface gas exchange except during winter, and the supersaturations observed in the deep layer may reflect periods of elevated atmospheric CFC-12 levels from the previous winter season. These results were compared to summertime profiles of CFC-11 and CFC-12 made in 1994.

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