Deforestation in Amazonia impacts riverine carbon dynamics
Abstract. Fluxes of organic and inorganic carbon within the Amazon basin are considerably controlled by annual flooding, which triggers the export of terrigenous organic material to the river and ultimately to the Atlantic Ocean. The amount of carbon imported to the river and the further conversion, transport and export of it depend on temperature, atmospheric CO2, terrestrial productivity and carbon storage, as well as discharge. Both terrestrial productivity and discharge are influenced by climate and land use change. The coupled LPJmL and RivCM model system (Langerwisch et al., 2016) has been applied to assess the combined impacts of climate and land use change on the Amazon riverine carbon dynamics. Vegetation dynamics (in LPJmL) as well as export and conversion of terrigenous carbon to and within the river (RivCM) are included. The model system has been applied for the years 1901 to 2099 under two deforestation scenarios and with climate forcing of three SRES emission scenarios, each for five climate models. We find that high deforestation (business-as-usual scenario) will strongly decrease (locally by up to 90 %) riverine particulate and dissolved organic carbon amount until the end of the current century. At the same time, increase in discharge leaves net carbon transport during the first decades of the century roughly unchanged only if a sufficient area is still forested. After 2050 the amount of transported carbon will decrease drastically. In contrast to that, increased temperature and atmospheric CO2 concentration determine the amount of riverine inorganic carbon stored in the Amazon basin. Higher atmospheric CO2 concentrations increase riverine inorganic carbon amount by up to 20 % (SRES A2). The changes in riverine carbon fluxes have direct effects on carbon export, either to the atmosphere via outgassing or to the Atlantic Ocean via discharge. The outgassed carbon will increase slightly in the Amazon basin, but can be regionally reduced by up to 60 % due to deforestation. The discharge of organic carbon to the ocean will be reduced by about 40 % under the most severe deforestation and climate change scenario. These changes would have local and regional consequences on the carbon balance and habitat characteristics in the Amazon basin itself as well as in the adjacent Atlantic Ocean.