Geomorphic regulation of floodplain soil organic carbon concentration in watersheds of the Rocky and Cascade Mountains, USA

Scott, Daniel N.; Wohl, Ellen E.

Mountain rivers have the potential to retain OC-rich soil and store large quantities of organic carbon (OC) in floodplain soils. We characterize valley bottom morphology, floodplain soil, and vegetation in two disparate mountain river basins: the Middle Fork Snoqualmie in the Cascade Mountains and the Big Sandy in the Wind River Range of the Rocky Mountains. We use this dataset to examine variability in OC concentration between these basins as well as within them at multiple spatial scales. We find that although there are some differences between basins, much of the variability in OC concentration is due to local factors, such as soil moisture and valley bottom geometry. From this, we conclude that local factors likely play a dominant role in regulating OC concentration in valley bottoms and that interbasin differences in climate or vegetation characteristics may not translate directly into differences in OC storage. We also use an analysis of OC concentration and soil texture by depth to infer that OC is input to floodplain soils mainly by decaying vegetation, not overbank deposition of fine, OC-bearing sediment. Geomorphology and hydrology play strong roles in determining the spatial distribution of soil OC in mountain river corridors.

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Scott, Daniel N. / Wohl, Ellen E.: Geomorphic regulation of floodplain soil organic carbon concentration in watersheds of the Rocky and Cascade Mountains, USA. 2018. Copernicus Publications.

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Rechteinhaber: Daniel N. Scott

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