Quantifying the transfer of organic carbon from the terrestrial to the riverine ecosystems is of crucial importance to fully appreciate the carbon cycle at the catchment, regional and global scales. In this study, we propose a framework for modeling the flux of dissolved organic carbon (DOC) from hillslopes to stream and river networks which couples a transport model based on travel time distributions with the reactivity continuum (RC) approach to model DOC degradation. We test the model by applying it to the Plynlimon catchments (UK) exploiting both weekly and high-frequency (7-hr interval) time-series. We use information about chloride to get an independent estimate of water travel times using the framework of StorAge Selection functions. Following the RC model, the composition and the degradation of DOC along the flowpaths, and its consequent concentration in the streamflow, is described assuming that DOC is composed by a mixture of compounds that follows a continuous spectrum of reactivity. For the high-frequency data set, the model is able to reproduce DOC streamflow concentrations and to capture the complex hysteretic relation between DOC concentration and discharge. Weekly data are instead not frequent enough to properly describe DOC dynamics in this catchment. The distribution of the age of the water comprised in the streamflow proves thus a key variable to predict the quantity and the reactivity of the DOC exported from soils, and the effect of hydrologic variability on this process.

Catchment Dissolved Organic Carbon Transport: A Modeling Approach Combining Water Travel Times and Reactivity Continuum

Grandi, G;Bertuzzo, E
2022

Abstract

Quantifying the transfer of organic carbon from the terrestrial to the riverine ecosystems is of crucial importance to fully appreciate the carbon cycle at the catchment, regional and global scales. In this study, we propose a framework for modeling the flux of dissolved organic carbon (DOC) from hillslopes to stream and river networks which couples a transport model based on travel time distributions with the reactivity continuum (RC) approach to model DOC degradation. We test the model by applying it to the Plynlimon catchments (UK) exploiting both weekly and high-frequency (7-hr interval) time-series. We use information about chloride to get an independent estimate of water travel times using the framework of StorAge Selection functions. Following the RC model, the composition and the degradation of DOC along the flowpaths, and its consequent concentration in the streamflow, is described assuming that DOC is composed by a mixture of compounds that follows a continuous spectrum of reactivity. For the high-frequency data set, the model is able to reproduce DOC streamflow concentrations and to capture the complex hysteretic relation between DOC concentration and discharge. Weekly data are instead not frequent enough to properly describe DOC dynamics in this catchment. The distribution of the age of the water comprised in the streamflow proves thus a key variable to predict the quantity and the reactivity of the DOC exported from soils, and the effect of hydrologic variability on this process.
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: https://hdl.handle.net/10278/5008241
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