Publication Details

Category Text Publication
Reference Category Journals
DOI 10.5194/hess-25-6067-2021
Licence creative commons licence
Title (Primary) Small-scale topography explains patterns and dynamics of dissolved organic carbon exports from the riparian zone of a temperate, forested catchment
Author Werner, B.J.; Lechtenfeld, O.J. ORCID logo ; Musolff, A.; de Rooij, G.H.; Yang, J.; Gründling, R.; Werban, U. ORCID logo ; Fleckenstein, J.H.
Source Titel Hydrology and Earth System Sciences
Year 2021
Department ANA; HDG; MET; BOSYS
Volume 25
Issue 12
Page From 6067
Page To 6086
Language englisch
Topic T5 Future Landscapes
T9 Healthy Planet
Data and Software links
Abstract Export of dissolved organic carbon (DOC) from riparian zones (RZs) is an important component of temperate catchment carbon budgets, but export mechanisms are still poorly understood. Here we show that DOC export is predominantly controlled by the microtopography of the RZ (lateral variability) and by riparian groundwater level dynamics (temporal variability). From February 2017 until July 2019 we studied topography, DOC quality and water fluxes and pathways in the RZ of a small forested catchment and the receiving stream in central Germany. The chemical classification of the riparian groundwater and surface water samples (n=66) by Fourier transform ion cyclotron resonance mass spectrometry revealed a cluster of plant-derived, aromatic and oxygen-rich DOC with high concentrations (DOCI) and a cluster of microbially processed, saturated and heteroatom-enriched DOC with lower concentrations (DOCII). The two DOC clusters were connected to locations with distinctly different values of the high-resolution topographic wetness index (TWIHR; at 1 m resolution) within the study area. Numerical water flow modeling using the integrated surface–subsurface model HydroGeoSphere revealed that surface runoff from high-TWIHR zones associated with the DOCI cluster (DOCI source zones) dominated overall discharge generation and therefore DOC export. Although corresponding to only 15 % of the area in the studied RZ, the DOCI source zones contributed 1.5 times the DOC export of the remaining 85 % of the area associated with DOCII source zones. Accordingly, DOC quality in stream water sampled under five event flow conditions (n=73) was closely reflecting the DOCI quality. Our results suggest that DOC export by surface runoff along dynamically evolving surface flow networks can play a dominant role for DOC exports from RZs with overall low topographic relief and should consequently be considered in catchment-scale DOC export models. We propose that proxies of spatial heterogeneity such as the TWIHR can help to delineate the most active source zones and provide a mechanistic basis for improved model conceptualization of DOC exports.
Persistent UFZ Identifier
Werner, B.J., Lechtenfeld, O.J., Musolff, A., de Rooij, G.H., Yang, J., Gründling, R., Werban, U., Fleckenstein, J.H. (2021):
Small-scale topography explains patterns and dynamics of dissolved organic carbon exports from the riparian zone of a temperate, forested catchment
Hydrol. Earth Syst. Sci. 25 (12), 6067 - 6086 10.5194/hess-25-6067-2021