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Identifying Key Environmental Factors Explaining Temporal Patterns of DOC Export From Watersheds in the Conterminous United S...

by Xinyuan Wei
Publication Type
Journal Name
Journal of Geophysical Research: Biogeosciences
Publication Date
Page Numbers
1 to 13

The export of dissolved organic carbon (DOC) from a watershed is a key component of the terrestrial biosphere carbon cycle. There is a need to improve our understanding of how and by how much various environmental factors are driving the temporal patterns of DOC export in order to accurately model and evaluate terrestrial carbon storage and fluxes. In this synthesis, we compiled observational data sets from 14 watersheds in the conterminous United States spanning the time period from 1981 to 2017. We used these data sets to examine the relative impacts of various climate, atmospheric deposition, and land cover factors on the temporal patterns of DOC export across watersheds of different sizes and landscape conditions, as well as the time-series autocorrelation of DOC export. Our results suggest that the dominant factor on an annual scale was the amount of precipitation, which had a positive correlation with DOC export from a watershed. Overall increasing nitrogen deposition was coincident with increasing DOC export, and increasing sulfur deposition was coincident with declining DOC export. The seasonal pattern of DOC export was strongly regulated by air temperature, the long-term trend was negatively influenced by increasing sulfur deposition, and no obvious autocorrelation was detected in DOC export. In addition, higher rates of DOC export were positively correlated with greater area of wetlands within a watershed, but was not found to be strongly related to any of the other land cover types.