Studying Old Organic Carbon in the Yukon River
USGS scientists Doug Halm, Paul Schuster, and Kathy Kelsey collecting melt water samples from Gulkana Glacier.
Results of recent analyses identified old carbonin the Yukon River, but also indicated that the chemical source was not derived from ancient plant material stored in the glacier, but from fossil fuel sources derived from atmospheric deposition. This add new complications to the interpretation of carbon sources and sinks in high latitudes and of the apparent sources of old organic carbon exported by arctic rivers.
USGS research of the Yukon River has had a long term goal of determining the source and fate of organic carbon transported by the river to the Bering Sea and ultimately the Arctic Ocean.