Rivers play a crucial role in the carbon cycle as they connect continental and marine reservoirs of carbon. One of many outstanding paradoxes is that rivers globally deliver a large flux of dissolved organic carbon to the ocean, yet the majority of marine dissolved organic carbon is thought to be derived from marine productivity. This project aims at resolving this paradox through detailed characterization of the age and stability of dissolved organic carbon discharged by rivers to the ocean. This will be achieved using a novel technique that independently determines the age and stability structure of dissolved organic matter. Specifically, the project will focus on three large contrasted (climate, vegetation, geomorphology) river systems - the Amazon, Congo and Mackenzie River - to shed insights into the mechanisms controlling the age and reactivity spectra of dissolved organic matter delivered by rivers to the ocean. The technique and framework will be applicable not only to characterize dissolved organic carbon from other river systems but also from the marine realm, thereby opening up a new field of investigation.
The Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution is dedicated to research and education to advance understanding of the ocean and its interaction with the Earth system, and to communicating this understanding for the benefit of society. Learn more »