Dissolved organic carbon export in a small, disturbed peat catchment: insights from long-term, high-resolution, sensor-based monitoring

Bass, A. M. , Coleman, M., Waldron, S. and Scott, M. (2023) Dissolved organic carbon export in a small, disturbed peat catchment: insights from long-term, high-resolution, sensor-based monitoring. Limnology and Oceanography, 68(8), pp. 1750-1761. (doi: 10.1002/lno.12382)

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Understanding dissolved organic carbon (DOC) export dynamics from carbon-rich environments is critical. Peatlands act as terrestrial carbon stores, and consequently supply substantial amounts of DOC to drainage. This DOC flux is temporally heterogeneous and subject to long- and short-term variability. Ultrahigh temporal resolution sampling (< hourly) is still in-frequent in peatland catchments. We used a field-deployable —ultraviolet–visible light spectrometer (Spectro::lyser™) and monitored DOC flux from a temperate peatland over 31 months to examine seasonal and event dynamics. DOC concentration varied from 6.8 to 63.5 mg L−1, in the higher reported range for peatlands and showed clear seasonal (high-summer, low-winter) variability coinciding with elevated biological productivity in the peatland. Discharge was an unreliable predictor of instantaneous DOC concentration overall, with antecedent water temperatures proving the most reliable predictor overall. Discharge drove total DOC export in the catchment, where the top 10% of flow events, accounted for 41.3% of all DOC exported—increasing to 84.6% in the top 50% of flow events. Total estimated catchment DOC flux was sensitive to measurement frequency: increasing from every 30 min to daily altered export estimates by < 1%, increasing to > 10% at 1-week intervals. The variation in estimated flux increased approximately linearly with reduced sampling frequency, reaching > 40% at monthly intervals. High-resolution data reveal the large amount of within-site complexity of DOC export dynamics in a temperate peatland and provide evidence on the subsequently recommended sampling frequency for the future elucidation of detailed DOC budgets in these environments.

Item Type:Articles
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Waldron, Professor Susan and Coleman, Martin and Bass, Dr Adrian and Scott, Professor Marian
Authors: Bass, A. M., Coleman, M., Waldron, S., and Scott, M.
College/School:College of Science and Engineering > School of Geographical and Earth Sciences
College of Science and Engineering > School of Mathematics and Statistics > Statistics
Journal Name:Limnology and Oceanography
ISSN (Online):1939-5590
Published Online:31 May 2023
Copyright Holders:Copyright © 2023 The Authors
First Published:First published in Limnology and Oceanography 68(8):1750-1761
Publisher Policy:Reproduced under a Creative Commons license

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Project CodeAward NoProject NamePrincipal InvestigatorFunder's NameFunder RefLead Dept
165596Hearing the full symphony': advancing our understanding of the carbon cycle through continuous monitoring of dissolved organic carbon export.Susan WaldronNatural Environment Research Council (NERC)NE/I019670/1GES - Geography
161408CLAD: Carbon Landscapes And DrainageSusan WaldronNatural Environment Research Council (NERC)NE/G008833/1GES - Earth Sciences