Hydrological processes and permafrost regulate magnitude, source and chemical characteristics of dissolved organic carbon export in a peatland catchment of northeastern China

Guo, Yuedong; Song, Changchun; Tan, Wenwen; Wang, Xianwei; Lu, Yongzheng

Permafrost thawing in peatlands has the potential to alter the catchment export of dissolved organic carbon (DOC), thus influencing the carbon balance and cycling in linked aquatic and ocean ecosystems. Peatlands along the southern margins of the Eurasian permafrost are relatively underexplored despite the considerable risks associated with permafrost degradation due to climate warming. This study examined dynamics of DOC export from a permafrost peatland catchment located in northeastern China during the 2012 to 2014 growing seasons. The estimated annual DOC loads varied greatly between 3211 and 19 022 kg yrinline-formula−1, with a mean DOC yield of 4.7 g minline-formula−2 yrinline-formula−1. Although the estimated DOC yield was in the lower range compared with other permafrost regions, it was still significant for the net carbon balance in the studied catchment. There were strong linkages between daily discharge and DOC concentrations in both wet and dry years, suggesting a transport-limited process of DOC delivery from the catchment. Discharge explained the majority of both seasonal and interannual variations of DOC concentrations, which made annual discharge a good indicator of total DOC load from the catchment. As indicated by three fluorescence indices, DOC source and chemical characteristics tracked the shift of flow paths during runoff processes closely. Interactions between the flow path and DOC chemical characteristics were greatly influenced by the seasonal thawing of the soil active layer. The deepening of the active layer due to climate warming likely increases the proportion of microbial-originated DOC in baseflow discharge.

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Guo, Yuedong / Song, Changchun / Tan, Wenwen / et al: Hydrological processes and permafrost regulate magnitude, source and chemical characteristics of dissolved organic carbon export in a peatland catchment of northeastern China. 2018. Copernicus Publications.

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