Geophysical Research Letters

Seasonal changes in the age and structure of dissolved organic carbon in Siberian rivers and streams



[1] We examined the age and structural composition of dissolved organic carbon (DOC) transported in the Kolyma River, two large tributaries and several small upland and lowland streams in 2003. The sampling took place under ice through the winter and included the spring flood period. Radiocarbon measurements of the DOC indicated that the bulk of the annual DOC flux was modern in origin (Δ14C > 100‰) and pyrolysis-gas chromatography/mass spectroscopy techniques showed high concentration of terrestrial lignin monomers consistent with vigorous leaching of surface horizons during the spring thaw. By September 2003 however, little terrestrial lignin was present and the radiocarbon age became significantly older (Δ14C < 0‰) indicating that the mechanism of DOC generation transitions from surface to deeper soils or other terrestrial sources of old, previously stabilized C.