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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Spatial Variability of Dissolved Organic and Inorganic Carbon in Subarctic Headwater Streams

  • Author(s): Jantze, EJ
  • Laudon, H
  • Dahlke, HE
  • Lyon, SW
  • et al.

© 2015 Regents of the University of Colorado. The subarctic landscape is composed of a complex mosaic of vegetation, geology and topography, which control both the hydrology and biogeochemistry of streams across space and time. We present a synoptic sampling campaign that aimed to estimate dissolved C export variability under low-flow conditions from a subarctic landscape. The results included measurements of stream discharge and concentrations of both dissolved organic carbon (DOC), dissolved inorganic carbon (DIC), and carbon dioxide (CO2) for 32 subcatchments of the Abiskojokka catchment in northern Sweden. For these subarctic headwater streams, we found that DOC, DIC and CO2 concentrations showed significant variability (p < 0.05) relative to catchment size, discharge, specific discharge, lithology, electrical conductivity, weathering products, and the estimated travel time of water through the subcatchment. Our results indicate that neither vegetation cover nor lithology alone could explain the concentrations and mass flux rates of DOC and DIC. Instead, we found that mass flux rates of DOC, DIC, and CO2 depended mainly on specific discharge and water travel time. Furthermore, our results demonstrate the importance of studying lateral carbon transport in combination with hydrological flow paths at small scales to establish a knowledge foundation applicable for expected carbon cycle and hydroclimatic shifts due to climate change.

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