Voss Britta M.

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Britta M.

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  • Preprint
    Global-scale evidence for the refractory nature of riverine black carbon
    ( 2018-05) Coppola, Alysha I. ; Wiedemeier, Daniel B. ; Galy, Valier ; Haghipour, Negar ; Hanke, Ulrich ; Nascimento, Gabriela S. ; Usman, Muhammed ; Blattmann, Thomas M. ; Reisser, Moritz ; Freymond, Chantal V. ; Zhao, Meixun ; Voss, Britta M. ; Wacker, Lukas ; Schefuß, Enno ; Peucker-Ehrenbrink, Bernhard ; Abiven, Samuel ; Schmidt, Michael W. I. ; Eglinton, Timothy I.
    Wildfires and incomplete combustion of fossil fuel produce large amounts of black carbon. Black carbon production and transport are essential components of the carbon cycle. Constraining estimates of black carbon exported from land to ocean is critical, given ongoing changes in land use and climate, which affect fire occurrence and black carbon dynamics. Here, we present an inventory of the concentration and radiocarbon content (∆14C) of particulate black carbon for 18 rivers around the globe. We find that particulate black carbon accounts for about 15.8 ± 0.9% of river particulate organic carbon, and that fluxes of particulate black carbon co-vary with river-suspended sediment, indicating that particulate black carbon export is primarily controlled by erosion. River particulate black carbon is not exclusively from modern sources but is also aged in intermediate terrestrial carbon pools in several high-latitude rivers, with ages of up to 17,000 14C years. The flux-weighted 14C average age of particulate black carbon exported to oceans is 3,700 ± 400 14C years. We estimate that the annual global flux of particulate black carbon to the ocean is 0.017 to 0.037 Pg, accounting for 4 to 32% of the annually produced black carbon. When buried in marine sediments, particulate black carbon is sequestered to form a long-term sink for CO2.
  • Preprint
    Rapid 14C analysis of dissolved organic carbon in non-saline waters
    ( 2016-06) Lang, Susan Q. ; McIntyre, Cameron P. ; Bernasconi, Stefano M. ; Fruh-Green, Gretchen L. ; Voss, Britta M. ; Eglinton, Timothy I. ; Wacker, Lukas
    The radiocarbon content of dissolved organic carbon (DOC) in rivers, lakes, and other non-saline waters can provide valuable information on carbon cycling dynamics in the environment. DOC is typically prepared for 14C analysis by accelerator mass spectrometry (AMS) either by ultraviolet (UV) oxidation or by freeze-drying and sealed tube combustion. We present here a new method for the rapid analysis of 14C of DOC using wet chemical oxidation (WCO) and automated headspace sampling of CO2. The approach is an adaption of recently developed methods using aqueous persulfate oxidant to determine the δ13C of DOC in non-saline water samples and the 14C content of volatile organic acids. One advantage of the current method over UV oxidation is higher throughput: 22 samples and 10 processing standards can be prepared in one day and analyzed in a second day, allowing a full suite of 14C processing standards and blanks to be run in conjunction with samples. A second advantage is that there is less potential for cross-contamination between samples.
  • Article
    Climate control on terrestrial biospheric carbon turnover
    (National Academy of Sciences, 2021-02-23) Eglinton, Timothy I. ; Galy, Valier ; Hemingway, Jordon D. ; Feng, Xiaojuan ; Bao, Hongyan ; Blattmann, Thomas M. ; Dickens, Angela F. ; Gies, Hannah ; Giosan, Liviu ; Haghipour, Negar ; Hou, Pengfei ; Lupker, Maarten ; McIntyre, Cameron P. ; Montlucon, Daniel B. ; Peucker-Ehrenbrink, Bernhard ; Ponton, Camilo ; Schefuß, Enno ; Schwab, Melissa S. ; Voss, Britta M. ; Wacker, Lukas ; Wu, Ying ; Zhao, Meixun
    Terrestrial vegetation and soils hold three times more carbon than the atmosphere. Much debate concerns how anthropogenic activity will perturb these surface reservoirs, potentially exacerbating ongoing changes to the climate system. Uncertainties specifically persist in extrapolating point-source observations to ecosystem-scale budgets and fluxes, which require consideration of vertical and lateral processes on multiple temporal and spatial scales. To explore controls on organic carbon (OC) turnover at the river basin scale, we present radiocarbon (14C) ages on two groups of molecular tracers of plant-derived carbon—leaf-wax lipids and lignin phenols—from a globally distributed suite of rivers. We find significant negative relationships between the 14C age of these biomarkers and mean annual temperature and precipitation. Moreover, riverine biospheric-carbon ages scale proportionally with basin-wide soil carbon turnover times and soil 14C ages, implicating OC cycling within soils as a primary control on exported biomarker ages and revealing a broad distribution of soil OC reactivities. The ubiquitous occurrence of a long-lived soil OC pool suggests soil OC is globally vulnerable to perturbations by future temperature and precipitation increase. Scaling of riverine biospheric-carbon ages with soil OC turnover shows the former can constrain the sensitivity of carbon dynamics to environmental controls on broad spatial scales. Extracting this information from fluvially dominated sedimentary sequences may inform past variations in soil OC turnover in response to anthropogenic and/or climate perturbations. In turn, monitoring riverine OC composition may help detect future climate-change–induced perturbations of soil OC turnover and stocks.
  • Article
    Isotopic evidence for sources of dissolved carbon and the role of organic matter respiration in the Fraser River basin, Canada
    (Springer, 2022-07-10) Voss, Britta M. ; Eglinton, Timothy I. ; Peucker-Ehrenbrink, Bernhard ; Galy, Valier ; Lang, Susan Q. ; McIntyre, Cameron P. ; Spencer, Robert G. M. ; Bulygina, Ekaterina ; Wang, Zhaohui Aleck ; Guay, Katherine A.
    Sources of dissolved and particulate carbon to the Fraser River system vary significantly in space and time. Tributaries in the northern interior of the basin consistently deliver higher concentrations of dissolved organic carbon (DOC) to the main stem than other tributaries. Based on samples collected near the Fraser River mouth throughout 2013, the radiocarbon age of DOC exported from the Fraser River does not change significantly across seasons despite a spike in DOC concentration during the freshet, suggesting modulation of heterogeneous upstream chemical and isotopic signals during transit through the river basin. Dissolved inorganic carbon (DIC) concentrations are highest in the Rocky Mountain headwater region where carbonate weathering is evident, but also in tributaries with high DOC concentrations, suggesting that DOC respiration may be responsible for a significant portion of DIC in this basin. Using an isotope and major ion mass balance approach to constrain the contributions of carbonate and silicate weathering and DOC respiration, we estimate that up to 33 ± 11% of DIC is derived from DOC respiration in some parts of the Fraser River basin. Overall, these results indicate close coupling between the cycling of DOC and DIC, and that carbon is actively processed and transformed during transport through the river network.
  • Article
    Seasonal hydrology drives rapid shifts in the flux and composition of dissolved and particulate organic carbon and major and trace ions in the Fraser River, Canada
    (Copernicus Publications on behalf of the European Geosciences Union, 2015-10-01) Voss, Britta M. ; Peucker-Ehrenbrink, Bernhard ; Eglinton, Timothy I. ; Spencer, Robert G. M. ; Bulygina, Ekaterina ; Galy, Valier ; Lamborg, Carl H. ; Ganguli, Priya M. ; Montlucon, Daniel B. ; Marsh, Steve ; Gillies, Sharon L. ; Fanslau, Jenna ; Epp, A. ; Luymes, Rosalie
    Rapid changes in the volume and sources of discharge during the spring freshet lead to pronounced variations in biogeochemical properties in snowmelt-dominated river basins. We used daily sampling during the onset of the freshet in the Fraser River (southwestern Canada) in 2013 to identify rapid changes in the flux and composition of dissolved material, with a focus on dissolved organic matter (DOM). Previous time series sampling (at twice monthly frequency) of dissolved inorganic species in the Fraser River has revealed smooth seasonal transitions in concentrations of major ions and tracers of water and dissolved load sources between freshet and base flow periods. In contrast, daily sampling reveals a significant increase in dissolved organic carbon (DOC) concentration (200 to 550 μmol L−1) occurring over a matter of days, accompanied by a shift in DOM optical properties, indicating a transition towards higher molecular weight, more aromatic DOM composition. Comparable changes in DOM composition, but not concentration, occur at other times of year, underscoring the role of seasonal climatology in DOM cycling. A smaller data set of total and dissolved Hg concentrations also showed variability during the spring freshet period, although dissolved Hg dynamics appear to be driven by factors beyond DOM as characterized here. The time series records of DOC and particulate organic carbon (POC) concentrations indicate that the Fraser River exports 0.25–0.35 % of its annual basin net primary productivity. The snowmelt-dominated hydrology, forested land cover, and minimal reservoir impoundment of the Fraser River may influence the DOC yield of the basin, which is high relative to the nearby Columbia River and of similar magnitude to that of the Yukon River to the north. Anticipated warming and decreased snowfall due to climate changes in the region may cause an overall decrease in DOM flux from the Fraser River to the coastal ocean in coming decades
  • Preprint
    Sulfur isotopes in rivers : insights into global weathering budgets, pyrite oxidation, and the modern sulfur cycle
    ( 2018-05) Burke, Andrea ; Present, Theodore M. ; Paris, Guillaume ; Rae, Emily C. M. ; Sandilands, Brodie H. ; Gaillardet, Jerome ; Peucker-Ehrenbrink, Bernhard ; Fischer, Woodward W. ; McClelland, James W. ; Spencer, Robert G. M. ; Voss, Britta M. ; Adkins, Jess F.
    The biogeochemical sulfur cycle is intimately linked to the cycles of carbon, iron, and oxygen, and plays an important role in global climate via weathering reactions and aerosols. However, many aspects of the modern budget of the global sulfur cycle are not fully understood. We present new δ34S measurements on sulfate from more than 160 river samples from different geographical and climatic regions—more than 46% of the world’s freshwater flux to the ocean is accounted for in this estimate of the global riverine sulfur isotope budget. These measurements include major rivers and their tributaries, as well as time series, and are combined with previously published data to estimate the modern flux-weighted global riverine δ34S as 4.4 ± 4.5 ‰ (V-CDT), and 4.8 ± 4.9 ‰ when the most polluted rivers are excluded. Combined with major anion and cation concentrations, the sulfur isotope data allow us to tease apart the relative contributions of different processes to the modern riverine sulfur budget, resulting in new estimates of the flux of riverine sulfate due to the oxidative weathering of pyrites (1.3 ± 0.2 Tmol S/y) and the weathering of sedimentary sulfate minerals (1.5 ± 0.2 Tmol S/y). These data indicate that previous estimates of the global oxidative weathering of pyrite have been too low by a factor of two. As pyrite oxidation coupled to carbonate weathering can act as a source of CO2 to the atmosphere, this global pyrite weathering budget implies that the global CO2 weathering sink is overestimated. Furthermore, the large range of sulfur isotope ratios in modern rivers indicates that secular changes in the lithologies exposed to weathering through time could play a major role in driving past variations in δ34S of seawater.
  • Preprint
    Tracing river chemistry in space and time : dissolved inorganic constituents of the Fraser River, Canada
    ( 2013-07-19) Voss, Britta M. ; Peucker-Ehrenbrink, Bernhard ; Eglinton, Timothy I. ; Fiske, Gregory J. ; Wang, Zhaohui Aleck ; Hoering, Katherine A. ; Montlucon, Daniel B. ; LeCroy, Chase ; Pal, Sharmila ; Marsh, Steven ; Gillies, Sharon L. ; Janmaat, Alida ; Bennett, Michelle ; Downey, Bryce ; Fanslau, Jenna ; Fraser, Helena ; Macklam-Harron, Garrett ; Martinec, Michelle ; Wiebe, Brayden
    The Fraser River basin in southwestern Canada bears unique geologic and climatic features which make it an ideal setting for investigating the origins, transformations and delivery to the coast of dissolved riverine loads under relatively pristine conditions. We present results from sampling campaigns over three years which demonstrate the lithologic and hydrologic controls on fluxes and isotope compositions of major dissolved inorganic runoff constituents (dissolved nutrients, major and trace elements, 87Sr/86Sr, δD). A time series record near the Fraser mouth allows us to generate new estimates of discharge-weighted concentrations and fluxes, and an overall chemical weathering rate of 32 t km-2 y-1. The seasonal variations in dissolved inorganic species are driven by changes in hydrology, which vary in timing across the basin. The time series record of dissolved 87Sr/86Sr is of particular interest, as a consistent shift between higher (“more radiogenic”) values during spring and summer and less radiogenic values in fall and winter demonstrates the seasonal variability in source contributions throughout the basin. This seasonal shift is also quite large (0.709 – 0.714), with a discharge-weighted annual average of 0.7120 (2 s.d. = 0.0003). We present a mixing model which predicts the seasonal evolution of dissolved 87Sr/86Sr based on tributary compositions and water discharge. This model highlights the importance of chemical weathering fluxes from the old sedimentary bedrock of headwater drainage regions, despite their relatively small contribution to the total water flux.
  • Thesis
    Spatial and temporal dynamics of biogeochemical processes in the Fraser River, Canada : a coupled organic-inorganic perspective
    (Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, 2014-09) Voss, Britta M.
    The great geologic and climatic diversity of the Fraser River basin in southwestern Canada render it an excellent location for understanding biogeochemical cycling of sediments and terrigenous organic carbon in a relatively pristine, large, temperate watershed. Sediments delivered by all tributaries have the potential to reach the ocean due to a lack of main stem lakes or impoundments, a unique feature for a river of its size. This study documents the concentrations of a suite of dissolved and particulate organic and inorganic constituents, which elucidate spatial and temporal variations in chemical weathering (including carbonate weathering in certain areas) as well as organic carbon mobilization, export, and biogeochemical transformation. Radiogenic strontium isotopes are employed as a tracer of sediment provenance based on the wide variation in bedrock age and lithology in the Fraser basin. The influence of sediments derived from the headwaters is detectable at the river mouth, however more downstream sediment sources predominate, particularly during high discharge conditions. Bulk radiocarbon analyses are used to quantify terrestrial storage timescales of organic carbon and distinguish between petrogenic and biospheric organic carbon, which is critical to assessing the role of rivers in long-term atmospheric CO2 consumption. The estimated terrestrial residence time of biospheric organic carbon in the Fraser basin is 650 years, which is relatively short compared to other larger rivers (Amazon, Ganges-Brahmaputra) in which this assessment has been performed, and is likely related to the limited floodplain storage capacity and non-steady-state post-glacial erosion state of the Fraser River. A large portion of the dissolved inorganic carbon load of the Fraser River (>80%) is estimated to derive from remineralization of dissolved organic carbon, particularly during the annual spring freshet when organic carbon concentrations increase rapidly. This thesis establishes a baseline for carbon cycling in a largely unperturbed modern mid-latitude river system and establishes a framework for future process studies on the mechanisms of organic carbon turnover and organic matter-mineral associations in river systems.