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Insights and issues with simulating terrestrial DOC loading of Arctic river networks

January 1, 2013

Terrestrial carbon dynamics influence the contribution of dissolved organic carbon (DOC) to river networks in addition to hydrology. In this study, we use a biogeochemical process model to simulate the lateral transfer of DOC from land to the Arctic Ocean via riverine transport. We estimate that, over the 20th century, the pan-Arctic watershed has contributed, on average, 32 Tg C/yr of DOC to river networks emptying into the Arctic Ocean with most of the DOC coming from the extensive area of boreal deciduous needle-leaved forests and forested wetlands in Eurasian watersheds. We also estimate that the rate of terrestrial DOC loading has been increasing by 0.037 Tg C/yr2 over the 20th century primarily as a result of climate-induced increases in water yield. These increases have been offset by decreases in terrestrial DOC loading caused by wildfires. Other environmental factors (CO2 fertilization, ozone pollution, atmospheric nitrogen deposition, timber harvest, agriculture) are estimated to have relatively small effects on terrestrial DOC loading to Arctic rivers. The effects of the various environmental factors on terrestrial carbon dynamics have both offset and enhanced concurrent effects on hydrology to influence terrestrial DOC loading and may be changing the relative importance of terrestrial carbon dynamics on this carbon flux. Improvements in simulating terrestrial DOC loading to pan-Arctic rivers in the future will require better information on the production and consumption of DOC within the soil profile, the transfer of DOC from land to headwater streams, the spatial distribution of precipitation and its temporal trends, carbon dynamics of larch-dominated ecosystems in eastern Siberia, and the role of industrial organic effluents on carbon budgets of rivers in western Russia.

Publication Year 2013
Title Insights and issues with simulating terrestrial DOC loading of Arctic river networks
DOI 10.1890/11-1050.1
Authors David W. Kicklighter, Daniel J. Hayes, James W. McClelland, Bruce J. Peterson, A. David McGuire, Jerry M. Melillo
Publication Type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Series Title Ecological Applications
Index ID 70038467
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization Alaska Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit