Preprints
https://doi.org/10.5194/esd-2021-44
https://doi.org/10.5194/esd-2021-44

  22 Jun 2021

22 Jun 2021

Review status: this preprint is currently under review for the journal ESD.

Spatio-temporal patterns and drivers of terrestrial Dissolved Organic Carbon (DOC) leaching to the European river network

Céline Annick Sylviane Gommet1,3, Ronny Lauerwald2, Philippe Ciais3, Bertrand Guenet4, Haicheng Zhang1, and Pierre Regnier1 Céline Annick Sylviane Gommet et al.
  • 1Biogeochemistry and Earth System Modelling, Department of Geoscience, Environment and Society, Universite Libre de Bruxelles, Bruxelles, Belgium
  • 2Université Paris-Saclay, INRAE, AgroParisTech, UMR ECOSYS, 78850, Thiverval-Grignon, France
  • 3Laboratoire des Sciences du Climat et de l’Environnement, UMR8212, CEA-CNRS-UVSQ F-91191 Gif sur Yvette, France
  • 4Laboratoire de Géologie, UMR 8538, Ecole Normale Supérieure, IPSL, PSL Research University, CNRS, Paris, France

Abstract. Leaching of dissolved organic carbon (DOC) from soils to the river network is an important component of the land carbon (C) budget. At regional to global scales, its significance has been estimated through simple mass budgets, often using multi-year averages of observed fluvial DOC fluxes as proxy of DOC leaching due to the limited availability of observations of the leaching flux itself. This procedure leads to a systematic underestimation of the leaching flux because of the reactivity of DOC during fluvial transport. Moreover, this procedure does not allow to reveal spatio-temporal variability in DOC leaching from soils, which is needed to better understand the drivers of DOC leaching and its impact on the local soil C budget. In this study, we use the land surface model ORCHILEAK to simulate the terrestrial C budget including leaching of DOC from the soil and its subsequent reactive transport through the river network of Europe. The model performance is not only evaluated against the sparse observations of DOC leaching, but also against the more abundant observations of fluxes and reactivity of DOC in rivers, providing further evidence that our simulated DOC leaching fluxes are realistic. The model is then used to simulate the spatio-temporal patterns of DOC leaching across Europe over the period 1972 to 2012, quantifying both the environmental drivers of these patterns as well as the impact of DOC leaching on the land C budget. Over the simulation period, we find that on average 14.3 TgC yr−1 of DOC is leached from land to European rivers, which is only about 0.6 % of the terrestrial net primary production, a fraction about one order of magnitude lower than reported for tropical river networks. Of the DOC leaching, on average 12.3 TgC yr−1 is exported to the coast via the river network, the rest being respired in transit. DOC leaching presents a large seasonal variability, with a maximum occurring in winter and a minimum in summer, except for the Northern most part of Europe where the maximum occurs in spring due to the snow melt. DOC leaching rate is generally lower in warm and dry regions, and higher in cold and wet regions of Europe. Furthermore, runoff, and the ratio between runoff from shallower flow paths vs. deep drainage and groundwater flow, is the main driver of the spatial variation of DOC leaching. Temperature, as a major control of DOC production and decomposition rates in the soils, plays only a secondary role.

Céline Annick Sylviane Gommet et al.

Status: open (until 07 Aug 2021)

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Céline Annick Sylviane Gommet et al.

Céline Annick Sylviane Gommet et al.

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Short summary
Leaching of dissolved organic carbon (DOC) from soils to the river network is an important component of the land carbon (C) budget but its spatio-temporal variation is not yet fully constrained. We use a land surface model to simulate at the European scale the present-day land C budget including leaching of DOC from the soil. We found an average leaching of 14.3 TgC/yr (0.6 % of the terrestrial net primary production) with seasonal variations. We determine runoff and temperature as main drivers.
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