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Potential for long-term transfer of dissolved organic carbon from riparian zones to streams in boreal catchments
Department of Aquatic Sciences and Assessment, Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences (SLU).ORCID iD: 0000-0002-4181-5498
Uppsala University, Disciplinary Domain of Science and Technology, Earth Sciences, Department of Earth Sciences, LUVAL. (Hydrologi)ORCID iD: 0000-0002-6537-0753
Uppsala University, Disciplinary Domain of Science and Technology, Earth Sciences, Department of Earth Sciences, LUVAL. (Environmental analysis)
Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences, University of Waterloo, University Avenue West 200, Waterloo, N2L 3G1 ON, Canada.
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2015 (English)In: Global Change Biology, ISSN 1354-1013, E-ISSN 1365-2486, Vol. 21, no 8, 2963-2979 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Boreal regions store most of the global terrestrial carbon, which can be transferred as dissolved organic carbon (DOC) to inland waters with implications for both aquatic ecology and carbon budgets. Headwater riparian zones (RZ) are important sources of DOC, and often just a narrow dominant source layer' (DSL) within the riparian profile is responsible for most of the DOC export. Two important questions arise: how long boreal RZ could sustain lateral DOC fluxes as the sole source of exported carbon and how its hydromorphological variability influences this role. We estimate theoretical turnover times by comparing carbon pools and lateral exports in the DSL of 13 riparian profiles distributed over a 69km(2) catchment in northern Sweden. The thickness of the DSL was 36 +/- 18 (average +/- SD) cm. Thus, only about one-third of the 1-m-deep riparian profile contributed 90% of the lateral DOC flux. The 13 RZ exported 8.7 +/- 6.5g C m(-2)year(-1), covering the whole range of boreal stream DOC exports. The variation could be explained by local hydromorphological characteristics including RZ width (R-2=0.90). The estimated theoretical turnover times were hundreds to a few thousands of years, that is there is a potential long-lasting supply of DOC. Estimates of net ecosystem production in the RZ suggest that lateral fluxes, including both organic and inorganic C, could be maintained without drawing down the riparian pools. This was supported by measurements of stream (DOC)-C-14 that indicated modern carbon as the predominant fraction exported, including streams disturbed by ditching. The transfer of DOC into boreal inland waters from new and old carbon sources has a major influence on surface water quality and global carbon balances. This study highlights the importance of local variations in RZ hydromorphology and DSL extent for future DOC fluxes under a changing climate.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2015. Vol. 21, no 8, 2963-2979 p.
National Category
Oceanography, Hydrology, Water Resources
URN: urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-259485DOI: 10.1111/gcb.12872ISI: 000358485200014OAI: diva2:844349
Swedish Research CouncilSwedish Research Council FormasMistra - The Swedish Foundation for Strategic Environmental ResearchThe Kempe Foundations
Available from: 2015-08-05 Created: 2015-08-05 Last updated: 2015-09-01Bibliographically approved

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Ledesma, José L. J.Grabs, ThomasKevin, BishopKöhler, Stephan J.
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