EGU General Assembly 2020
© Author(s) 2020. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Effect of Hydrologic Export on Soil Carbon Turnover Rates

Oleksandra Hararuk1, Stuart Jones2, and Christopher Solomon3
Oleksandra Hararuk et al.
  • 1University of Central Florida, Biology, Orlando, FL, United States of America (
  • 2University of Notre Dame, Notre Dame, IN, United States of America (
  • 3Cary Institute of Ecosystem Studies, Millbrook, NY, United States of America (

Soil is the largest terrestrial carbon (C) reservoir and is an important component of climate-carbon feedbacks, potentially sequestering or releasing large amounts CO2 from or to the atmosphere. In global land models soil C dynamics is determined by the long-term balance between C inputs and turnover rates, and the latter are usually a function of soil texture, temperature, and soil moisture, which represents environmental limitation of microbial soil organic carbon (SOC) mineralization. Hydrologic C export is often overlooked in the terrestrial C cycle models, likely because proportionally soils contain a very small amount of C that can be exported with runoff, contributing around 2.9 Pg C yr-1 to aquatic systems globally. However, ignoring hydrologic C export in areas, where it has substantial effect on SOC turnover rate, could result in systematic overestimation of SOC stocks and inaccurate simulation of SOC responses to changing environmental conditions. We combined water quality data from the United States Geological Survey with hydrologic and soil chemistry data products to estimate the relative contribution of hydrologic export to bulk soil turnover rates across the continental USA. The catchment area weighted average of hydrologic export effect on SOC turnover was 5.2%. Hydrologic export accounted for 0-2% of the bulk SOC turnover in arid regions, 2-15% - in forests, and 20-40% - in wetland-rich areas. The SOC stocks generated for the continental U.S. using microbe-mediated turnover alone amounted to 88.3 Pg C and were 15.4% higher than the amount reported in the Harmonized World Soil Database (76.5 Pg C), thus illustrating the importance of accounting for hydrologic C export when simulating SOC dynamics.

How to cite: Hararuk, O., Jones, S., and Solomon, C.: Effect of Hydrologic Export on Soil Carbon Turnover Rates, EGU General Assembly 2020, Online, 4–8 May 2020, EGU2020-5514,, 2020


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