Contribution of dust inputs to dissolved organic carbon and water transparency in Mediterranean reservoirs
The Mediterranean reservoirs receive frequent atmospheric Saharan dust inputs with soil-derived organic components mostly during the stratification periods, when run-off inputs are particularly limited. Here, we quantified and optically characterized the water-soluble organic carbon (WSOC) of the (dry and wet) atmospheric deposition in collectors placed near three reservoirs from the western Mediterranean Basin. In addition, we determined the WSOC contribution to the pool of dissolved organic carbon (DOC) in the reservoirs and the influence of dust-derived chromophoric organic components on the water transparency during their stratification periods.
We found synchronous dynamics in the WSOC atmospheric inputs among the three collectors and in the DOC concentrations among the three reservoirs. The DOC concentrations and the WSOC atmospheric inputs were positive and significantly correlated in the most oligotrophic reservoir (Quéntar) and in the reservoir with the highest ratio of surface area to mixing water depth (Cubillas). Despite these correlations, WSOC atmospheric inputs represented less than 10% of the total DOC pool, suggesting that indirect effects of dust inputs on reservoir DOC may also promote these synchronous patterns observed in the reservoirs. Chromophoric components from dust inputs can significantly reduce the water transparency to the ultraviolet radiation (UVR). The depths where UVR at λ = 320 nm was reduced to ten percent of surface intensity ( Z10%) decreased 27 cm in Béznar, 49 cm in Cubillas, and 69 cm in Quéntar due to the dust inputs. Therefore, the increasing dust export to the atmosphere may have consequences for the water transparency of aquatic ecosystems located under the influence of the global dust belt.