Flocculation of Allochthonous Dissolved Organic Matter – a Significant Pathway of Sedimentation and Carbon Burial in Lakes
Inland waters receive substantial amounts of organic carbon from adjacent watersheds. Only about half of the carbon exported from inland waters reaches the oceans, while the remainder is lost en route. This thesis identifies flocculation as an important and significant fate of carbon in the boreal landscape. Flocculation reallocates organic carbon from the dissolved state into particles which are prone to settle. Thus, flocculation relocates organic carbon from the water column to the sediment.The dissolved organic carbon (DOC), mainly originating from terrestrial sources, in a set of Swedish lakes was found to determine the extent of sedimentation of particulate organic carbon. A major fraction of the settling particles were of allochthonous origin. This implies that allochthonous DOC was the precursor of the settling matter in these lakes. The gross sedimentation was of the same magnitude as the evasion of carbon dioxide to the atmosphere.Sunlight, especially in the photosynthetically active region, stimulated flocculation of DOC. The effect of light appeared to involve a direct photochemical reaction. Iron was involved in the flocculation but it could not be unravelled whether the iron catalyzes the flocculation or just co-precipitates with the settling matter. Microbial activity was identified as the main regulator of the flocculation rates. Accordingly, alteration of temperature, oxygen concentration and pH did not affect flocculation only indirectly, via their effects on microbial metabolism.A comparison of fluorescence characteristics of organic matter collected in sediment trap and in the sediment surface layer revealed that autochthonous organic carbon was preferentially lost in the sediments while allochthonous matter increased. The recalcitrant nature of the flocculated matter could favour sequestration of this matter in the lake sediment. Hence, the lakes will act as sinks of organic carbon due to a slower mineralization of the flocculated matter in the sediments.
Source Type:Doctoral Dissertation
Keywords:NATURAL SCIENCES; Biology; Terrestrial, freshwater and marine ecology; Freshwater ecology; flocculation; dissolved organic carbon; allochthonous; carbon sequestration; carbon cycle; boreal lakes
Date of Publication:01/01/2008