Dissolved organic carbon: carbon losses via the aquatic pathway

Expertise

Moorwasserproben im Labor
Water samples from various peatlands (© Thünen-Institut/Bärbel Tiemeyer)

Dissolved organic compounds are responsible for the typical yellow to red-brown color of peatland waters. Leaching of dissolved organic carbon (DOC) accounts for a part of the carbon balance of peatlands and is indirectly climate relevant since DOC is to a large extent microbially converted to CO2. In addition DOC can influence aquatic ecosystems and cause problems in the preparation of potable water.  

In laboratory and field experiments, we study how hydrological processes and peat properties impact the dynamics of DOC concentrations and the DOC losses. For example, we have discovered that the DOC concentrations in a low intensity wet grassland and in a high intensity deeply drained grassland are twice and four times as high as in a semi-natural reference site (Article in Biogeosciences). Re-wetting of former peat extraction areas, in contrast, leads to a return to the near-natural concentrations.