EGU General Assembly 2021
© Author(s) 2021. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

After the flood: Impact of salt water intrusions on the isotope biogeochemistry of a rewetted coastal peatland

Lucas Winski1, Benjamin Rach1, Anna-K. Jenner1, Julia Westphal1, Iris Schmiedinger1, Cátia M.E. von Ahn1, Mary Zeller1, Christoph Malik1,4, and Michael E. Böttcher1,2,3
Lucas Winski et al.
  • 1Leibniz Institute for Baltic Sea Research Warnemünde, Marine Geology, Germany (
  • 2Marine Geochemistry, University of Greifswald, Germany
  • 3Interdisciplinary Faculty, University of Rostock, Germany
  • 4UmweltPlan GmbG - Stralsund, Department of Hydrogeology, Germany

Land-ocean interactions in the coastal zone (LOICZ) are of particular interest regarding the exchange of water and elements, like nutrients, carbon, sulfur, and metals. Processes impacting groundwater fluxes at these boundaries belong to the still unsolved problems in hydrology (Blöschl et al., 2019). Stable isotope signatures (H, C, O, S), major and trace element contents in surface waters of a rewetted coastal peatland were investigated to understand the impact of storm-induced flooding by brackish seawater on hydrology and biogeochemical element cycling.

The study area is the Hütelmoor, a wetland located at the coastline of the southern Baltic Sea. The area is characterized by a continuous release of fresh water to the Baltic Sea via submarine groundwater discharge (Jurasinski et al., 2018). Surface water is partly drained to a nearby river, but the introduction of brackish waters into the peatland is typically precluded by a small dune and limited to storm-induced flooding events. In the present study, the spatially distributed composition of surface waters was investigated briefly after a flooding event. The results are compared with previous campaigns without actual salt water impact.

Conservative elements and water isotopes demonstrate the importance of seasonal variations due to varying evapotranspiration during pre-flood times and allow for a quantification of mixing processes in the post-flood waters. The impact of soil respired CO2, and/or the mineralization of organic matter or methane on the surface waters is indicated by a shift of the C isotope composition of DIC towards lighter data. The S and O isotopic composition of dissolved sulfate indicates an impact by solutions modified by net microbial sulfate reduction on pre-flood surface waters and a potential oxidation of reduced sulfur species in post-flooding solutions.

Previous flooding events already impacted element cycling in the peatland’s past and are also reflected by a sulfidization of peat layers (Fernández-Fernández et al., 2017) and the observation of local areas with enhanced dissolved concentrations in the central part of the peatland.

The study is supported by DFG during GK Baltic TRANSCOAST, DAAD, and Leibniz IOW.



  • Blöschl G. et al. (2019) Twenty-three unsolved problems in hydrology (UPH) – a community perspective. Hydrol. Sci. J. 64, 1141-1158.
  • Jurasinski G. et al. (2018) Understanding the coastal ecocline: Assessing sea-land-interactions at non-tidal, low-lying coasts through interdisciplinary research. Front. Mar. Sci. 5, 1-22.
  • Fernández-Fernández L.E. et al. (2017) Sulfur isotope biogeochemistry of soils from an episodically flooded coastal wetland, southern Baltic Sea. Geophys. Res. Abs. 19, EGU2017-14335.

How to cite: Winski, L., Rach, B., Jenner, A.-K., Westphal, J., Schmiedinger, I., von Ahn, C. M. E., Zeller, M., Malik, C., and Böttcher, M. E.: After the flood: Impact of salt water intrusions on the isotope biogeochemistry of a rewetted coastal peatland, EGU General Assembly 2021, online, 19–30 Apr 2021, EGU21-3507,, 2021.

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