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

From field to stream: Tracing streambed organic carbon origins at a catchment scale

Katy Wiltshire1, Miriam Glendell2, Toby Waine1, Robert Grabowski1, Barry Thornton2, and Jeroen Meersmans3
Katy Wiltshire et al.
  • 1Cranfield University, School of Water, Energy and Environment, Bedford, United Kingdom
  • 2The James Hutton Institute, Craigiebuckler, AB15 8QH, Aberdeen, Scotland, United Kingdom
  • 3University of Liège, TERRA Teaching and Research Centre, Gembloux Agro-Bio Tech, Gembloux, 5030, Belgium

Quantifying organic carbon (OC) levels and the processes altering them is key in unlocking soils potential as a mediator of climate change through sequestration of atmospheric CO2. In areas of high soil erosion increased fluxes of OC across the terrestrial-aquatic interface are likely and understanding these fluxes is crucial in integrating lateral OC fluxes within the carbon cycle. For this study of a small UK catchment, OC mapping and Revised Universal Soil Loss Equation (RUSLE) based erosion modelling provided estimates of proportional soil OC loss coming from each land use. Sediment fingerprinting using n-alkane biomarkers and a Bayesian unmixing model provided a comparison of streambed OC proportions by land use to assess which processes were dominating OC input to streams. Results showed that RUSLE-based soil OC loss proportions exhibited disconnect with sediment fingerprinting OC composition and the river corridor and riparian environment were key zones in regulating terrestrial to aquatic fluxes of OC.

How to cite: Wiltshire, K., Glendell, M., Waine, T., Grabowski, R., Thornton, B., and Meersmans, J.: From field to stream: Tracing streambed organic carbon origins at a catchment scale, EGU General Assembly 2021, online, 19–30 Apr 2021, EGU21-4571,, 2021.


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