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Carbon in Boreal Streams: Isotopic Tracing of Terrestrial Sources
Uppsala universitet, Luft-, vatten och landskapslära.ORCID iD: 0000-0002-9113-8915
Responsible organisation
2019 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

The boreal biome comprises vast areas of coniferous forests, dotted with millions of peatlands. Plants harbouring these ecosystems fix CO2 from the atmosphere, which is later incorporated into the vegetation biomass and subsequently buried in soils. Over the course of millennia, this process has led to the formation of a large repository of organic C, currently stored in boreal soils. Streams draining this landscape are typically enriched with carbon dioxide (CO2), methane (CH4) and dissolved organic carbon (DOC). As a consequence, streams tend to emit CO2 and CH4 to the atmosphere, two potent greenhouse gases, and thus contribute positively to radiative climate forcing. The sources fuelling C to boreal streams are not well understood. This thesis aims to unravel these sources, and promote a better consolidation of terrestrial and aquatic C biogeochemical processes. The work is largely based on stable and radiogenic C isotope characterization of various dissolved C forms in stream and groundwater, within contrasting ecosystem types across Sweden.

This thesis identifies boreal soils as the main source of CO2 in streams. Soil respiration (i.e. biogenic sources) overwhelmingly supply CO2 to streams, leaving only a few exceptions where geogenic CO2 sources were present. An array of biological processes also transform CO2 during its transport from soils to streams. These include; methanogenesis, aquatic DOC mineralization and primary production. The majority of C in boreal streams is sustained by the decomposition of recent photosynthates, with ancient C substrates holding a negligible share of the total C export. While these results suggest that the repository of ancient soil organic C is currently stable, within boreal forests and peatlands, the close connection with recently occurring photosynthesis suggest that forecasted alterations in plant C allocation patterns, driven by climate and land-use changes, will produce a rapid response in stream CO2 emissions. Isotopic characterization of C in stream and groundwater can help reveal these sources and transformation processes, but its interpretation must be made with care.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Uppsala: Acta Universitatis Upsaliensis , 2019. , p. 64
National Category
Other Earth and Related Environmental Sciences
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:polar:diva-8349ISBN: 978-91-513-0654-4 (print)OAI: oai:DiVA.org:polar-8349DiVA, id: diva2:1395609
Public defence
2019-06-14, Hambergsalen, Villavägen 16B, Uppsala, 10:00 (English)
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Available from: 2020-02-25 Created: 2020-02-24 Last updated: 2020-02-25Bibliographically approved

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CiteExportLink to record
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