Sources of particulate organic matter discharged by the Lena River using lignin phenols

maria.winterfeld [ at ]


Particulate organic matter (POM) discharged by rivers and deposited offshore their mouths is generally assumed to record an integrated signal from the watershed and therefore provides an archive of past environmental changes. Yet, in large river systems the riverine POM might be trapped in flood plains and the lower reaches resulting in an inefficient transport of POM particularly from the distal parts of the watershed. Further, the POM likely undergoes degradation during transport from source to sink. The Lena River is one of these large river systems stretching from 53°N to 71°N in central Siberia. The watershed can be broadly divided into two different biomes, taiga in the south and tundra in the northernmost part. The relative contribution of these biomes to the POM load of the river and its discharge to the ocean as well as the changes it is undergoing during transport are not well understood. Here we present the lignin phenol composition of different grain size fractions (bulk, 2mm-63µm, <63µm) of soil samples taken along a latitudinal transect (63°N to 72°N) as well as in marine surface sediments and two short sediment cores covering the last 120 years offshore the main Lena discharge channels. The lignin phenol composition of the soil samples (bulk, 2mm-63µm, <63µm) reflects the change in vegetation from south to north with increasing contribution of tundra vegetation. The degree of degradation between the soil sample locations as well as grain size fractions was very heterogeneous and did not show a clear trend. However, the POM seems to be slightly more degraded in the tundra, which is unexpected as the summer period when degradation in the upper thawed part of the soil can take place is shorter in the tundra compared to the southern taiga region. The marine surface sediments were dominated by gymnosperm-derived POM, particularly close to the river mouth and in the <63µm fraction. Because of the large heterogeneity of organic matter degradation in the soil samples and their grain size fractions, it is not quite clear to which degree the POM gets mineralized within the soils and during transport in the river compared to degradation occurring during cross shelf transport.

Item Type
Conference (Talk)
Primary Division
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AGU Fall meeting, 11 Dec 2016 - 16 Dec 2016, San Francisco.
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Winterfeld, M. , Trojahn, S. , Hefter, J. , Pittauer, D. , Zubrzycki, S. , Han, P. , Rethemeyer, J. and Mollenhauer, G. (2016): Sources of particulate organic matter discharged by the Lena River using lignin phenols , AGU Fall meeting, San Francisco, 11 December 2016 - 16 December 2016 .

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