Radiocarbon Dating of Fluvial Organic Matter Reveals Land-Use Impacts in Boreal Peatlands

Hulatt, C.J. and Kaartokallio, H. and Oinonen, M. and Sonninen, E. and Stedmon, C.A. and Thomas, D.N. (2014) Radiocarbon Dating of Fluvial Organic Matter Reveals Land-Use Impacts in Boreal Peatlands. Environmental Science and Technology, 48 (21). 12543–12551. DOI: 10.1021/es5030004

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This study measured the effects of land use on organic matter released to surface waters in a boreal peat catchment using radiocarbon dating of particulate and dissolved organic carbon (POC and DOC), DOC concentration, stable carbon and nitrogen isotope composition, and optical measurements. Undisturbed sites invariably released modern DOC and POC (<20 years old), and seasonal forcing had little impact on the age distribution. Release of pre-1950 carbon was detected at peat extraction, agricultural and drained sites, and was consistently observed at agricultural and peat extraction areas throughout the seasons. Conventional mean DOC ages reached 3,100 (±122) years before collection. On average, DOC concentrations were up to 38% higher at impacted sites compared to natural areas, but there was no significant effect of land use on surface water DOC concentrations. The study indicates that the true extent of land use impacts is not necessarily detectible through changes in DOC concentration alone: Radiocarbon dating was essential to show that leaching of old soil organic matter at modified sites had replaced, rather than supplemented, the modern DOM that is usually released from pristine peatlands. Relationships between the specific fluorescence intensity of DOM and its radiocarbon age were identified, indicating that optical techniques may provide a method for the detection of changes in DOM age.

Item Type: Article
Subjects: Research Publications
Departments: College of Natural Sciences > School of Ocean Sciences
Date Deposited: 24 Jul 2015 02:15
Last Modified: 23 Sep 2015 02:52
ISSN: 0013-936X
URI: http://e.bangor.ac.uk/id/eprint/4852
Identification Number: DOI: 10.1021/es5030004
Publisher: American Chemical Society
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