Air-water gas transfer influences CO2 and other climatically important trace gas fluxes on regional and global scales, yet the magnitude of the transfer is not well known. Widely used models of gas exchange rates are based on empirical relationships linked to wind speed, even though physical processes other than wind are known to play important roles. Here the first field investigations are described supporting a new mechanistic model based on surface water turbulence that predicts gas exchange for a range of aquatic and marine processes. Findings indicate that the gas transfer rate varies linearly with the turbulent dissipation rate to the 1/4 power in a range of systems with different types of forcing - in the coastal ocean, in a macro-tidal river estuary, in a large tidal freshwater river, and in a model (i.e., artificial) ocean. These results have important implications for understanding carbon cycling.
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