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184 Global River Carbon Biogeochemistry

Part 15. Global Hydrology

  1. Jeffrey E Richey

Published Online: 15 APR 2006

DOI: 10.1002/0470848944.hsa191

Encyclopedia of Hydrological Sciences

Encyclopedia of Hydrological Sciences

How to Cite

Richey, J. E. 2006. Global River Carbon Biogeochemistry. Encyclopedia of Hydrological Sciences. 15:184.

Author Information

  1. University of Washington, School of Oceanography, Seattle, WA, US

Publication History

  1. Published Online: 15 APR 2006


The fluxes of dissolved and particulate carbon from land through fluvial systems to the oceans and to the atmosphere represent important pathways in the global carbon cycle. The processes controlling the distributions of solute species in river waters are established initially by weathering within the watershed, and physical transport via runoff. Superimposed on the underlying geochemical and physical processes is production and mineralization by terrestrial and aquatic biota. These factors play out differentially across the world's river basins, producing chemical signatures that vary from river to river. As a global aggregate, there would appear to be a net sink (between continental sedimentation and marine sedimentation and dissolution) of ∼1 to 1.5 Pg year−1. These sinks are partially compensated for by the outgassing. These processes are geographically very dispersed, with the continental sedimentation occurring in northern temperate regions, and much of the marine sedimentation and outgassing occurring in more tropical regions.


  • rivers;
  • carbon;
  • hydrology;
  • landscape;
  • production;
  • weathering;
  • mineralization;
  • outgassing