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Uncoupled organic matter burial and quality in boreal lake sediments over the Holocene
Uppsala University, Disciplinary Domain of Science and Technology, Biology, Department of Ecology and Genetics, Limnology.
University of Oldenburg, Germany. (Research Group for Marine Geochemistry (ICBM-MPI Bridging Group))
Uppsala University, Disciplinary Domain of Science and Technology, Biology, Department of Ecology and Genetics, Limnology.
Université du Québec à Montréal, Québec, Canada. (Groupe de Recherche Interuniversitaire en Limnologie)
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2015 (English)In: Journal of Geophysical Research - Biogeosciences, ISSN 2169-8953, E-ISSN 2169-8961, Vol. 120, no 9, 1751-1763 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Boreal lake sediments are important sites of organic carbon (OC) storage, which have accumulated substantial amounts of OC over the Holocene epoch; the temporal evolution and the strength of this Holocene carbon (C) sink is, however, not well constrained. In this study we investigated the temporal record of carbon mass accumulation rates (CMARs), and assessed qualitative changes of terrestrially derived OC in the sediment profiles of seven Swedish boreal lakes, in order to evaluate the variability of boreal lake sediments as a C sink over time.

CMARs were resolved on a short-term (centennial) and long-term (i.e. over millennia of the Holocene) time scale, using radioactive lead (210 Pb) and carbon (14C) isotope dating. Sources and degradation state of terrestrially derived OC were identified and characterized by molecular analyses of lignin phenols.

We found that CMARs varied substantially on both short-term and long-term scales, and that the variability was mostly attributed to sedimentation rates and uncoupled from the OC content in the sediment profiles. The lignin phenol analyses revealed that woody material from gymnosperms was a dominant and constant OC source to the sediments over the Holocene. Furthermore, lignin-based degradation indices, such as acid-to-aldehyde ratios, indicated that post-depositional degradation in the sediments was very limited on longer time scales, implying that terrestrial OC is stabilized in the sediments on a permanent basis.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2015. Vol. 120, no 9, 1751-1763 p.
Keyword [en]
organic carbon, accumulation rates, radiocarbon dating, lead dating, lignin phenols, carbon sink
National Category
Environmental Sciences
Research subject
Biology with specialization in Limnology
URN: urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-260660DOI: 10.1002/2015JG002987ISI: 000363332900004OAI: diva2:851741
Swedish Research Council Formas
Available from: 2015-09-07 Created: 2015-08-21 Last updated: 2016-04-22Bibliographically approved
In thesis
1. The role of sediments in the carbon cycle of boreal lakes
Open this publication in new window or tab >>The role of sediments in the carbon cycle of boreal lakes
2015 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

Inland waters are active sites of carbon (C) processing and emitters of carbon dioxide (CO2) and methane (CH4) to the atmosphere. In the boreal zone, where surface waters receive large quantities of organic carbon (OC) from surrounding forests and wetlands, lakes and streams act as strong sources of these greenhouse gases. Lake sediments provide the only long-term sink of C in boreal inland waters, through burial of OC. However, mineralization of OC counteracts the efficiency of lake sediments in removing C from the short-term C cycle. In this context, this thesis provides a better insight into the dual role of boreal lake sediments as C source and C sink.

The presented work is based on empirical assessments of OC burial and OC mineralization rates in boreal lakes. The temporal variability of OC burial and the stability of the buried OC was assessed on both centennial and millennial timescales. The quantitative importance of sediment OC burial and mineralization in comparison both to other C fluxes within the lake, and to C fluxes within the tributary stream network, was quantified. By simulating the effect of climate change on water temperature, we also gauged the potential future efficiency of lake sediments in storing C.

The results demonstrate that OC mineralization in sediments dominates three-fold over OC burial when observed at a whole-basin and annual scale. The contribution of sediment OC mineralization to annual C emission from the assessed study lake was, however, found to be small (16%), when compared to OC mineralization in the water column (37%) and catchment import of C (47%). Furthermore, C emission from headwater streams was found to dominate greatly over the lake C emission, mainly triggered by the higher gas transfer velocity of streams compared to lakes.

On a long-term (Holocene) scale, the continuous OC burial flux results in a large amount of C stored in sediments. The temporal variability of this OC accumulation was found to vary across lakes, with, however, time-dependent patterns: On a millennial scale, smaller lakes exhibited a higher variability than larger lakes of the study area. For the last century, similar variability and a trend to increased OC accumulation was found for most study lakes, irrespective of their size. Analysis of lignin phenols in the accumulated OC did not indicated post-depositional degradation, independent of the age of the sediment OC, implying that sediments are a very stable sink for land-derived OC in boreal lakes.

Simulation of warming water temperatures in boreal lakes resulted in declines of the OC burial efficiency BE (OCBE; OC burial/OCdeposition) up to 16%, depending, however, on basin morphometry. Predicted declines in OCBE were higher for the more shallow lake compared to the deeper lake.

In conclusion, this thesis illustrates that sediments play, despite a small quantitative impact on aquatic C cycling, an important role as a very stable C sink in boreal lakes. However, the efficiency of this C sink is likely to be reduced in the future.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Uppsala: Acta Universitatis Upsaliensis, 2015. 42 p.
Digital Comprehensive Summaries of Uppsala Dissertations from the Faculty of Science and Technology, ISSN 1651-6214 ; 1279
National Category
Environmental Sciences
urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-261157 (URN)978-91-554-9318-9 (ISBN)
Public defence
2015-10-16, Ekmans salen, Norbyvägen, Uppsala, 10:00 (English)
Available from: 2015-09-25 Created: 2015-08-31 Last updated: 2015-10-01

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