Holmes Robert M.

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Robert M.

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  • Article
    Recent changes in nitrate and dissolved organic carbon export from the upper Kuparuk River, North Slope, Alaska
    (American Geophysical Union, 2007-11-08) McClelland, James W. ; Stieglitz, Marc ; Pan, Feifei ; Holmes, Robert M. ; Peterson, Bruce J.
    Export of nitrate and dissolved organic carbon (DOC) from the upper Kuparuk River between the late 1970s and early 2000s was evaluated using long-term ecological research (LTER) data in combination with solute flux and catchment hydrology models. The USGS Load Estimator (LOADEST) was used to calculate June–August export from 1978 forward. LOADEST was then coupled with a catchment-based land surface model (CLSM) to estimate total annual export from 1991 to 2001. Simulations using the LOADEST/CLSM combination indicate that annual nitrate export from the upper Kuparuk River increased by ~5 fold and annual DOC export decreased by about one half from 1991 to 2001. The decrease in DOC export was focused in May and was primarily attributed to a decrease in river discharge. In contrast, increased nitrate export was evident from May to September and was primarily attributed to increased nitrate concentrations. Increased nitrate concentrations are evident across a wide range of discharge conditions, indicating that higher values do not simply reflect lower discharge in recent years but a significant shift to higher concentration per unit discharge. Nitrate concentrations remained elevated after 2001. However, extraordinarily low discharge during June 2004 and June–August 2005 outweighed the influence of higher concentrations in determining export during these years. The mechanism responsible for the recent increase in nitrate concentrations is uncertain but may relate to changes in soils and vegetation associated with regional warming. While changes in nitrate and DOC export from arctic rivers reflect changes in terrestrial ecosystems, they also have significant implications for Arctic Ocean ecosystems.
  • Article
    Isotopic signals (18O, 2H, 3H) of six major rivers draining the pan-Arctic watershed
    (American Geophysical Union, 2012-03-22) Yi, Y. ; Gibson, J. J. ; Cooper, Lee W. ; Helie, J.-F. ; Birks, S. J. ; McClelland, James W. ; Holmes, Robert M. ; Peterson, Bruce J.
    We present the results of a 4-year collaborative sampling effort that measured δ18O, δ2H values and 3H activities in the six largest Arctic rivers (the Ob, Yenisey, Lena, Kolyma, Yukon and Mackenzie). Using consistent sampling and data processing protocols, these isotopic measurements provide the best available δ2H and 3H estimates for freshwater fluxes from the pan-Arctic watershed to the Arctic Ocean and adjacent seas, which complements previous efforts with δ18O and other tracers. Flow-weighted annual δ2H values vary from −113.3‰ to −171.4‰ among rivers. Annual 3H fluxes vary from 0.68 g to 4.12 g among basins. The integration of conventional hydrological and landscape observations with stable water isotope signals, and estimation of areal yield of 3H provide useful insights for understanding water sources, mixing and evaporation losses in these river basins. For example, an inverse correlation between the slope of the δ18O-δ2H relation and wetland extent indicates that wetlands play comparatively important roles affecting evaporation losses in the Yukon and Mackenzie basins. Tritium areal yields (ranging from 0.760 to 1.695 10−6 g/km2 per year) are found to be positively correlated with permafrost coverage within the studied drainage basins. Isotope-discharge relationships demonstrate both linear and nonlinear response patterns, which highlights the complexity of hydrological processes in large Arctic river basins. These isotope observations and their relationship to discharge and landscape features indicate that basin-specific characteristics significantly influence hydrological processes in the pan-Arctic watershed.
  • Article
    River export of nutrients and organic matter from the North Slope of Alaska to the Beaufort Sea
    (John Wiley & Sons, 2014-02-28) McClelland, James W. ; Townsend-Small, Amy ; Holmes, Robert M. ; Pan, Feifei ; Stieglitz, Marc ; Khosh, Matt ; Peterson, Bruce J.
    While river-borne materials are recognized as important resources supporting coastal ecosystems around the world, estimates of river export from the North Slope of Alaska have been limited by a scarcity of water chemistry and river discharge data. This paper quantifies water, nutrient, and organic matter export from the three largest rivers (Sagavanirktok, Kuparuk, and Colville) that drain Alaska's North Slope and discusses the potential importance of river inputs for biological production in coastal waters of the Alaskan Beaufort Sea. Together these rivers export ∼297,000 metric tons of organic carbon and ∼18,000 metric tons of organic nitrogen each year. Annual fluxes of nitrate-N, ammonium-N, and soluble reactive phosphorus are approximately 1750, 200, and 140 metric tons per year, respectively. Constituent export from Alaska's North Slope is dominated by the Colville River. This is in part due to its larger size, but also because constituent yields are greater in the Colville watershed. River-supplied nitrogen may be more important to productivity along the Alaskan Beaufort Sea coast than previously thought. However, given the dominance of organic nitrogen export, the potential role of river-supplied nitrogen in support of primary production depends strongly on remineralization mechanisms. Although rivers draining the North Slope of Alaska make only a small contribution to overall river export from the pan-arctic watershed, comparisons with major arctic rivers reveal unique regional characteristics as well as remarkable similarities among different regions and scales. Such information is crucial for development of robust river export models that represent the arctic system as a whole.
  • Article
    Increasing river discharge in the Eurasian Arctic : consideration of dams, permafrost thaw, and fires as potential agents of change
    (American Geophysical Union, 2004-09-17) McClelland, James W. ; Holmes, Robert M. ; Peterson, Bruce J. ; Stieglitz, Marc
    Discharge from Eurasian rivers to the Arctic Ocean has increased significantly in recent decades, but the reason for this trend remains unclear. Increased net atmospheric moisture transport from lower to higher latitudes in a warming climate has been identified as one potential mechanism. However, uncertainty associated with estimates of precipitation in the Arctic makes it difficult to confirm whether or not this mechanism is responsible for the change in discharge. Three alternative mechanisms are dam construction and operation, permafrost thaw, and increasing forest fires. Here we evaluate the potential influence of these three mechanisms on changes in discharge from the six largest Eurasian Arctic rivers (Yenisey, Ob', Lena, Kolyma, Pechora, and Severnaya Dvina) between 1936 and 1999. Comprehensive discharge records made it possible to evaluate the influence of dams directly. Data on permafrost thaw and fires in the watersheds of the Eurasian Arctic rivers are more limited. We therefore use a combination of data and modeling scenarios to explore the potential of these two mechanisms as drivers of increasing discharge. Dams have dramatically altered the seasonality of discharge but are not responsible for increases in annual values. Both thawing of permafrost and increased fires may have contributed to changes in discharge, but neither can be considered a major driver. Cumulative thaw depths required to produce the observed increases in discharge are unreasonable: Even if all of the water from thawing permafrost were converted to discharge, a minimum of 4 m thawed evenly across the combined permafrost area of the six major Eurasian Arctic watersheds would have been required. Similarly, sensitivity analysis shows that the increases in fires that would have been necessary to drive the changes in discharge are unrealistic. Of the potential drivers considered here, increasing northward transport of moisture as a result of global warming remains the most viable explanation for the observed increases in Eurasian Arctic river discharge.
  • Article
    The processing and impact of dissolved riverine nitrogen in the Arctic Ocean
    (Springer, 2011-06-11) Tank, Suzanne E. ; Manizza, Manfredi ; Holmes, Robert M. ; McClelland, James W. ; Peterson, Bruce J.
    Although the Arctic Ocean is the most riverine-influenced of all of the world’s oceans, the importance of terrigenous nutrients in this environment is poorly understood. This study couples estimates of circumpolar riverine nutrient fluxes from the PARTNERS (Pan-Arctic River Transport of Nutrients, Organic Matter, and Suspended Sediments) Project with a regionally configured version of the MIT general circulation model to develop estimates of the distribution and availability of dissolved riverine N in the Arctic Ocean, assess its importance for primary production, and compare these estimates to potential bacterial production fueled by riverine C. Because riverine dissolved organic nitrogen is remineralized slowly, riverine N is available for uptake well into the open ocean. Despite this, we estimate that even when recycling is considered, riverine N may support 0.5–1.5 Tmol C year−1 of primary production, a small proportion of total Arctic Ocean photosynthesis. Rapid uptake of dissolved inorganic nitrogen coupled with relatively high rates of dissolved organic nitrogen regeneration in N-limited nearshore regions, however, leads to potential localized rates of riverine-supported photosynthesis that represent a substantial proportion of nearshore production.
  • Article
    Drivers of organic molecular signatures in the Amazon River
    (American Geophysical Union, 2021-06-11) Kurek, Martin ; Stubbins, Aron ; Drake, Travis W. ; Moura, José M. S. ; Holmes, Robert M. ; Osterholz, Helena ; Dittmar, Thorsten ; Peucker-Ehrenbrink, Bernhard ; Mitsuya, Miyuki ; Spencer, Robert G. M.
    As climate-driven El Niño Southern Oscillation (ENSO) events are projected to increase in frequency and severity, much attention has focused on impacts regarding ecosystem productivity and carbon balance in Amazonian rainforests, with comparatively little attention given to carbon dynamics in fluvial ecosystems. In this study, we compared the wet 2012 La Niña period to the following normal hydrologic period in the Amazon River. Elevated water flux during the La Niña period was accompanied by dilution of inorganic ion concentrations. Furthermore, the La Niña period exported 2.77 Tg C yr−1 more dissolved organic carbon (DOC) than the normal period, an increase greater than the annual amount of DOC exported by the Mississippi River. Using ultra-high-resolution mass spectrometry, we detected both intra- and interannual differences in dissolved organic matter (DOM) composition, revealing that DOM exported during the dry season and the normal period was more aliphatic, whereas compounds in the wet season and following the La Niña event were more aromatic, with ramifications for its environmental role. Furthermore, as this study has the highest temporal resolution DOM compositional data for the Amazon River to-date we showed that compounds were highly correlated to a 6-month lag in Pacific temperature and pressure anomalies, suggesting that ENSO events could impact DOM composition exported to the Atlantic Ocean. Therefore, as ENSO events increase in frequency and severity into the future it seems likely that there will be downstream consequences for the fate of Amazon Basin-derived DOM concurrent with lag periods as described here.
  • Article
    Lability of DOC transported by Alaskan rivers to the Arctic Ocean
    (American Geophysical Union, 2008-02-09) Holmes, Robert M. ; McClelland, James W. ; Raymond, Peter A. ; Frazer, Breton B. ; Peterson, Bruce J. ; Stieglitz, Marc
    Arctic rivers transport huge quantities of dissolved organic carbon (DOC) to the Arctic Ocean. The prevailing paradigm is that DOC in arctic rivers is refractory and therefore of little significance for the biogeochemistry of the Arctic Ocean. We show that there is substantial seasonal variability in the lability of DOC transported by Alaskan rivers to the Arctic Ocean: little DOC is lost during incubations of samples collected during summer, but substantial losses (20–40%) occur during incubations of samples collected during the spring freshet when the majority of the annual DOC flux occurs. We speculate that restricting sampling to summer may have biased past studies. If so, then fluvial inputs of DOC to the Arctic Ocean may have a much larger influence on coastal ocean biogeochemistry than previously realized, and reconsideration of the role of terrigenous DOC on carbon, microbial, and food-web dynamics on the arctic shelf will be warranted.
  • Preprint
    Trajectory shifts in the Arctic and Subarctic freshwater cycle
    ( 2006-06-22) Peterson, Bruce J. ; McClelland, James W. ; Curry, Ruth G. ; Holmes, Robert M. ; Walsh, John E. ; Aagaard, Knut
    Manifold changes in the freshwater cycle of high-latitude lands and oceans have been reported in the past few years. A synthesis of these changes in sources of freshwater and in ocean freshwater storage illustrates the complementary and synoptic temporal pattern and magnitude of these changes over the past 50 years. Increasing river discharge anomalies and excess net precipitation on the ocean contributed ~20,000 km3 of fresh water to the Arctic and high latitude North Atlantic oceans from lows in the 1960s to highs in the 1990s. Sea ice attrition provided another ~15,000 km3, and glacial melt added ~2000 km3. The sum of anomalous inputs from these freshwater sources matched the amount and rate at which fresh water accumulated in the North Atlantic during much of the period from 1965 through 1995. The changes in freshwater inputs and ocean storage occurred in conjunction with the amplifying North Atlantic Oscillation and rising air temperatures. Fresh water may now be accumulating in the Arctic Ocean and will likely be exported southward if and when the North Atlantic Oscillation enters into a new high phase.
  • Article
    A pan-arctic evaluation of changes in river discharge during the latter half of the 20th century
    (American Geophysical Union, 2006-03-30) McClelland, James W. ; Dery, Stephen J. ; Peterson, Bruce J. ; Holmes, Robert M. ; Wood, Eric F.
    Several recent publications have documented changes in river discharge from arctic and subarctic watersheds. Comparison of these findings, however, has been hampered by differences in time periods and methods of analysis. Here we compare changes in discharge from different regions of the pan-arctic watershed using identical time periods and analytical methods. Discharge to the Arctic Ocean increased by 5.6 km3/y/y during 1964-2000, the net result of a large increase from Eurasia moderated by a small decrease from North America. In contrast, discharge to Hudson/James/Ungava Bays decreased by 2.5 km3/y/y during 1964-2000. While this evaluation identifies an overall increase in discharge (~120 km3/y greater discharge at the end of the time period as compared to the beginning for Hudson/James/Unvaga Bays and the Arctic Ocean combined), the contrasting regional trends also highlight the need to understand the consequences of adding/removing freshwater from particular regions of the arctic and subarctic oceans.
  • Article
    Inorganic carbon speciation and fluxes in the Congo River
    (John Wiley & Sons, 2013-02-14) Wang, Zhaohui Aleck ; Bienvenu, Dinga Jean ; Mann, Paul J. ; Hoering, Katherine A. ; Poulsen, John R. ; Spencer, Robert G. M. ; Holmes, Robert M.
    Seasonal variations in inorganic carbon chemistry and associated fluxes from the Congo River were investigated at Brazzaville-Kinshasa. Small seasonal variation in dissolved inorganic carbon (DIC) was found in contrast with discharge-correlated changes in pH, total alkalinity (TA), carbonate species, and dissolved organic carbon (DOC). DIC was almost always greater than TA due to the importance of CO2*, the sum of dissolved CO2 and carbonic acid, as a result of low pH. Organic acids in DOC contributed 11–61% of TA and had a strong titration effect on water pH and carbonate speciation. The CO2* and bicarbonate fluxes accounted for ~57% and 43% of the DIC flux, respectively. Congo River surface water released CO2 at a rate of ~109 mol m−2 yr−1. The basin-wide DIC yield was ~8.84 × 104 mol km−2 yr−1. The discharge normalized DIC flux to the ocean amounted to 3.11 × 1011 mol yr−1. The DOC titration effect on the inorganic carbon system may also be important on a global scale for regulating carbon fluxes in rivers.
  • Article
    The pulse of the Amazon: fluxes of dissolved organic carbon, nutrients, and ions from the world's largest river
    (American Geophysical Union, 2021-03-15) Drake, Travis W. ; Hemingway, Jordon D. ; Kurek, Martin ; Peucker-Ehrenbrink, Bernhard ; Brown, Kristina A. ; Holmes, Robert M. ; Galy, Valier ; Moura, José M. ; Mitsuya, Miyuki ; Wassenaar, Leonard ; Six, Johan ; Spencer, Robert G. M.
    The Amazon River drains a diverse tropical landscape greater than 6 million km2, culminating in the world's largest export of freshwater and dissolved constituents to the ocean. Here, we present dissolved organic carbon (DOC), organic and inorganic nitrogen (DON, DIN), orthophosphate (PO43−), and major and trace ion concentrations and fluxes from the Amazon River using 26 samples collected over three annual hydrographs. Concentrations and fluxes were predominantly controlled by the annual wet season flood pulse. Average DOC, DON, DIN, and PO43− fluxes (±1 s.d.) were 25.5 (±1.0), 1.14 (±0.05), 0.82 (±0.03), and 0.063 (±0.003) Tg yr−1, respectively. Chromophoric dissolved organic matter absorption (at 350 nm) was strongly correlated with DOC concentrations, resulting in a flux of 74.8 × 106 m−2 yr−1. DOC and DON concentrations positively correlated with discharge while nitrate + nitrite concentrations negatively correlated, suggesting mobilization and dilution responses, respectively. Ammonium, PO43−, and silica concentrations displayed chemostatic responses to discharge. Major and trace ion concentrations displayed clockwise hysteresis (except for chloride, sodium, and rubidium) and exhibited either dilution or chemostatic responses. The sources of weathered cations also displayed seasonality, with the highest proportion of carbonate- and silicate-derived cations occurring during peak and baseflow, respectively. Finally, our seasonally resolved weathering model resulted in an average CO2 consumption yield of (3.55 ± 0.11) × 105 mol CO2 km−2 yr−1. These results represent an updated and temporally refined quantification of dissolved fluxes that highlight the strong seasonality of export from the world's largest river and set a robust baseline against which to gauge future change.
  • Article
    The Arctic freshwater system : changes and impacts
    (American Geophysical Union, 2007-11-20) White, Daniel ; Hinzman, Larry ; Alessa, Lilian ; Cassano, John ; Chambers, Molly ; Falkner, Kelly ; Francis, Jennifer ; Gutowski, William J. ; Holland, Marika M. ; Holmes, Robert M. ; Huntington, Henry ; Kane, Douglas ; Kliskey, Andrew ; Lee, Craig M. ; McClelland, James W. ; Peterson, Bruce J. ; Rupp, T. Scott ; Straneo, Fiamma ; Steele, Michael ; Woodgate, Rebecca ; Yang, Daqing ; Yoshikawa, Kenji ; Zhang, Tingjun
    Dramatic changes have been observed in the Arctic over the last century. Many of these involve the storage and cycling of fresh water. On land, precipitation and river discharge, lake abundance and size, glacier area and volume, soil moisture, and a variety of permafrost characteristics have changed. In the ocean, sea ice thickness and areal coverage have decreased and water mass circulation patterns have shifted, changing freshwater pathways and sea ice cover dynamics. Precipitation onto the ocean surface has also changed. Such changes are expected to continue, and perhaps accelerate, in the coming century, enhanced by complex feedbacks between the oceanic, atmospheric, and terrestrial freshwater systems. Change to the arctic freshwater system heralds changes for our global physical and ecological environment as well as human activities in the Arctic. In this paper we review observed changes in the arctic freshwater system over the last century in terrestrial, atmospheric, and oceanic systems.
  • Preprint
    Seasonal and annual fluxes of nutrients and organic matter from large rivers to the Arctic Ocean and surrounding seas
    ( 2011-03) Holmes, Robert M. ; McClelland, James W. ; Peterson, Bruce J. ; Tank, Suzanne E. ; Bulygina, Ekaterina ; Eglinton, Timothy I. ; Gordeev, Viacheslav V. ; Gurtovaya, Tatiana Y. ; Raymond, Peter A. ; Repeta, Daniel J. ; Staples, Robin ; Striegl, Robert G. ; Zhulidov, Alexander V. ; Zimov, Sergey A.
    River inputs of nutrients and organic matter impact the biogeochemistry of arctic estuaries and the Arctic Ocean as a whole, yet there is considerable uncertainty about the magnitude of fluvial fluxes at the pan-arctic scale. Samples from the six largest arctic rivers, with a combined watershed area of 11.3 x 106 km2, have revealed strong seasonal variations in constituent concentrations and fluxes within rivers as well as large differences among the rivers. Specifically, we investigate fluxes of dissolved organic carbon, dissolved organic nitrogen, total dissolved phosphorus, dissolved inorganic nitrogen, nitrate, and silica. This is the first time that seasonal and annual constituent fluxes have been determined using consistent sampling and analytical methods at the pan arctic scale, and consequently provide the best available estimates for constituent flux from land to the Arctic Ocean and surrounding seas. Given the large inputs of river water to the relatively small Arctic Ocean, and the dramatic impacts that climate change is having in the Arctic, it is particularly urgent that we establish the contemporary river fluxes so that we will be able to detect future changes and evaluate the impact of the changes on the biogeochemistry of the receiving coastal and ocean systems.
  • Article
    Multimolecular tracers of terrestrial carbon transfer across the pan-Arctic : 14C characteristics of sedimentary carbon components and their environmental controls
    (John Wiley & Sons, 2015-11-02) Feng, Xiaojuan ; Gustafsson, Orjan ; Holmes, Robert M. ; Vonk, Jorien E. ; van Dongen, Bart E. ; Semiletov, Igor P. ; Dudarev, Oleg V. ; Yunker, Mark B. ; Macdonald, Robie W. ; Wacker, Lukas ; Montlucon, Daniel B. ; Eglinton, Timothy I.
    Distinguishing the sources, ages, and fate of various terrestrial organic carbon (OC) pools mobilized from heterogeneous Arctic landscapes is key to assessing climatic impacts on the fluvial release of carbon from permafrost. Through molecular 14C measurements, including novel analyses of suberin- and/or cutin-derived diacids (DAs) and hydroxy fatty acids (FAs), we compared the radiocarbon characteristics of a comprehensive suite of terrestrial markers (including plant wax lipids, cutin, suberin, lignin, and hydroxy phenols) in the sedimentary particles from nine major arctic and subarctic rivers in order to establish a benchmark assessment of the mobilization patterns of terrestrial OC pools across the pan-Arctic. Terrestrial lipids, including suberin-derived longer-chain DAs (C24,26,28), plant wax FAs (C24,26,28), and n-alkanes (C27,29,31), incorporated significant inputs of aged carbon, presumably from deeper soil horizons. Mobilization and translocation of these “old” terrestrial carbon components was dependent on nonlinear processes associated with permafrost distributions. By contrast, shorter-chain (C16,18) DAs and lignin phenols (as well as hydroxy phenols in rivers outside eastern Eurasian Arctic) were much more enriched in 14C, suggesting incorporation of relatively young carbon supplied by runoff processes from recent vegetation debris and surface layers. Furthermore, the radiocarbon content of terrestrial markers is heavily influenced by specific OC sources and degradation status. Overall, multitracer molecular 14C analysis sheds new light on the mobilization of terrestrial OC from arctic watersheds. Our findings of distinct ages for various terrestrial carbon components may aid in elucidating fate of different terrestrial OC pools in the face of increasing arctic permafrost thaw.
  • Article
    A land-to-ocean perspective on the magnitude, source and implication of DIC flux from major Arctic rivers to the Arctic Ocean
    (American Geophysical Union, 2012-12-14) Tank, Suzanne E. ; Raymond, Peter A. ; Striegl, Robert G. ; McClelland, James W. ; Holmes, Robert M. ; Fiske, Gregory J. ; Peterson, Bruce J.
    A series of seasonally distributed measurements from the six largest Arctic rivers (the Ob', Yenisey, Lena, Kolyma, Yukon and Mackenzie) was used to examine the magnitude and significance of Arctic riverine DIC flux to larger scale C dynamics within the Arctic system. DIC concentration showed considerable, and synchronous, seasonal variation across these six large Arctic rivers, which have an estimated combined annual DIC flux of 30 Tg C yr−1. By examining the relationship between DIC flux and landscape variables known to regulate riverine DIC, we extrapolate to a DIC flux of 57 ± 9.9 Tg C yr−1for the full pan-arctic basin, and show that DIC export increases with runoff, the extent of carbonate rocks and glacial coverage, but decreases with permafrost extent. This pan-arctic riverine DIC estimate represents 13–15% of the total global DIC flux. The annual flux of selected ions (HCO3−, Na+, Ca2+, Mg2+, Sr2+, and Cl−) from the six largest Arctic rivers confirms that chemical weathering is dominated by inputs from carbonate rocks in the North American watersheds, but points to a more important role for silicate rocks in Siberian watersheds. In the coastal ocean, river water-induced decreases in aragonite saturation (i.e., an ocean acidification effect) appears to be much more pronounced in Siberia than in the North American Arctic, and stronger in the winter and spring than in the late summer. Accounting for seasonal variation in the flux of DIC and other major ions gives a much clearer understanding of the importance of riverine DIC within the broader pan-arctic C cycle.
  • Article
    Particulate organic carbon and nitrogen export from major Arctic rivers
    (John Wiley & Sons, 2016-05-11) McClelland, James W. ; Holmes, Robert M. ; Peterson, Bruce J. ; Raymond, Peter A. ; Striegl, Robert ; Zhulidov, Alexander V. ; Zimov, Sergey A. ; Zimov, Nikita ; Tank, Suzanne E. ; Spencer, Robert G. M. ; Staples, Robin ; Gurtovaya, Tatiana Y. ; Griffin, Claire G.
    Northern rivers connect a land area of approximately 20.5 million km2 to the Arctic Ocean and surrounding seas. These rivers account for ~10% of global river discharge and transport massive quantities of dissolved and particulate materials that reflect watershed sources and impact biogeochemical cycling in the ocean. In this paper, multiyear data sets from a coordinated sampling program are used to characterize particulate organic carbon (POC) and particulate nitrogen (PN) export from the six largest rivers within the pan-Arctic watershed (Yenisey, Lena, Ob', Mackenzie, Yukon, Kolyma). Together, these rivers export an average of 3055 × 109 g of POC and 368 × 109 g of PN each year. Scaled up to the pan-Arctic watershed as a whole, fluvial export estimates increase to 5767 × 109 g and 695 × 109 g of POC and PN per year, respectively. POC export is substantially lower than dissolved organic carbon export by these rivers, whereas PN export is roughly equal to dissolved nitrogen export. Seasonal patterns in concentrations and source/composition indicators (C:N, δ13C, Δ14C, δ15N) are broadly similar among rivers, but distinct regional differences are also evident. For example, average radiocarbon ages of POC range from ~2000 (Ob') to ~5500 (Mackenzie) years before present. Rapid changes within the Arctic system as a consequence of global warming make it challenging to establish a contemporary baseline of fluvial export, but the results presented in this paper capture variability and quantify average conditions for nearly a decade at the beginning of the 21st century.
  • Article
    Seasonal and hydrologic drivers of dissolved organic matter and nutrients in the upper Kuparuk River, Alaskan Arctic
    (Springer, 2010-05-08) Townsend-Small, Amy ; McClelland, James W. ; Holmes, Robert M. ; Peterson, Bruce J.
    As the planet warms, widespread changes in Arctic hydrology and biogeochemistry have been documented and these changes are expected to accelerate in the future. Improved understanding of the behavior of water-borne constituents in Arctic rivers with varying hydrologic conditions, including seasonal variations in discharge–concentration relationships, will improve our ability to anticipate future changes in biogeochemical budgets due to changing hydrology. We studied the relationship between seasonal water discharge and dissolved organic carbon and nitrogen (DOC and DON) and nutrient concentrations in the upper Kuparuk River, Arctic Alaska. Fluxes of most constituents were highest during initial snowmelt runoff in spring, indicating that this historically under-studied period contributes significantly to total annual export. In particular, the initial snowmelt period (the stream is completely frozen during the winter) accounted for upwards of 35% of total export of DOC and DON estimated for the entire study period. DOC and DON concentrations were positively correlated with discharge whereas nitrate (NO3 −) and silicate were negatively correlated with discharge throughout the study. However, discharge-specific DOC and DON concentrations (i.e. concentrations compared at the same discharge level) decreased over the summer whereas discharge-specific concentrations of NO3 − and silicate increased. Soluble reactive phosphorus (SRP) and ammonium (NH4 +) were negatively correlated with discharge during the spring thaw, but were less predictable with respect to discharge thereafter. These data provide valuable information on how Arctic watershed biogeochemistry will be affected by future changes in temperature, snowfall, and rainfall in the Arctic. In particular, our results add to a growing body of research showing that nutrient export per unit of stream discharge, particularly NO3 −, is increasing in the Arctic.
  • Article
    Flow-weighted values of runoff tracers (δ18O, DOC, Ba, alkalinity) from the six largest Arctic rivers
    (American Geophysical Union, 2008-09-20) Cooper, Lee W. ; McClelland, James W. ; Holmes, Robert M. ; Raymond, Peter A. ; Gibson, J. J. ; Guay, Christopher K. ; Peterson, Bruce J.
    We present new flow-weighted data for δ 18OH2O, dissolved organic carbon (DOC), dissolved barium and total alkalinity from the six largest Arctic rivers: the Ob', Yenisey, Lena, Kolyma, Yukon and Mackenzie. These data, which can be used to trace runoff, are based upon coordinated collections between 2003 and 2006 that were temporally distributed to capture linked seasonal dynamics of river flow and tracer values. Individual samples indicate significant variation in the contributions each river makes to the Arctic Ocean. Use of these new flow-weighted estimates should reduce uncertainties in the analysis of freshwater transport and fate in the upper Arctic Ocean, including the links to North Atlantic thermohaline circulation, as well as regional water mass analysis. Additional improvements should also be possible for assessing the mineralization rate of the globally significant flux of terrigenous DOC contributed to the Arctic Ocean by these major rivers.
  • Article
    Landscape-level controls on dissolved carbon flux from diverse catchments of the circumboreal
    (American Geophysical Union, 2012-08-21) Tank, Suzanne E. ; Frey, Karen E. ; Striegl, Robert G. ; Raymond, Peter A. ; Holmes, Robert M. ; McClelland, James W. ; Peterson, Bruce J.
    While much of the dissolved organic carbon (DOC) within rivers is destined for mineralization to CO2, a substantial fraction of riverine bicarbonate (HCO3−) flux represents a CO2 sink, as a result of weathering processes that sequester CO2 as HCO3−. We explored landscape-level controls on DOC and HCO3− flux in subcatchments of the boreal, with a specific focus on the effect of permafrost on riverine dissolved C flux. To do this, we undertook a multivariate analysis that partitioned the variance attributable to known, key regulators of dissolved C flux (runoff, lithology, and vegetation) prior to examining the effect of permafrost, using riverine biogeochemistry data from a suite of subcatchments drawn from the Mackenzie, Yukon, East, and West Siberian regions of the circumboreal. Across the diverse catchments that we study, controls on HCO3− flux were near-universal: runoff and an increased carbonate rock contribution to weathering (assessed as riverwater Ca:Na) increased HCO3− yields, while increasing permafrost extent was associated with decreases in HCO3−. In contrast, permafrost had contrasting and region-specific effects on DOC yield, even after the variation caused by other key drivers of its flux had been accounted for. We used ionic ratios and SO4 yields to calculate the potential range of CO2 sequestered via weathering across these boreal subcatchments, and show that decreasing permafrost extent is associated with increases in weathering-mediated CO2 fixation across broad spatial scales, an effect that could counterbalance some of the organic C mineralization that is predicted with declining permafrost.
  • Article
    Linkages among runoff, dissolved organic carbon, and the stable oxygen isotope composition of seawater and other water mass indicators in the Arctic Ocean
    (American Geophysical Union, 2005-12-07) Cooper, Lee W. ; Benner, Ronald ; McClelland, James W. ; Peterson, Bruce J. ; Holmes, Robert M. ; Raymond, Peter A. ; Hansell, Dennis A. ; Grebmeier, Jacqueline M. ; Codispoti, Louis A.
    Concentrations of dissolved organic carbon (DOC) and δ18O values have been determined following sampling of runoff from a number of major arctic rivers, including the Ob, Yenisey, Lena, Kolyma, Mackenzie and Yukon in 2003-2004. These data are considered in conjunction with marine data for DOC, δ18O values, nutrients, salinity, and fluorometric indicators of DOC that were obtained as part of the Shelf-Basin Interactions program at the continental shelf-basin boundary of the Chukchi and Beaufort Seas. These marine data indicate that the freshwater component is most likely derived from regional sources, such as the Mackenzie, the Bering Strait inflow and possibly eastern Siberian rivers, including the Kolyma, or the Lena but not rivers further west in the Eurasian arctic. Contributions of freshwater from melted sea ice to marine surface waters appeared to be insignificant over annual cycles compared to runoff, although on a seasonal basis, freshwater from melted sea ice was locally dominant following a major sea-ice retreat into the Canada Basin in 2002. DOC concentrations were correlated with the runoff fraction, with an apparent meteoric water DOC concentration of 174 ± 1 μM (standard error). This concentration is lower than the flow-weighted concentrations measured at river mouths of the five largest Arctic rivers (358 to 917 μM), indicating that removal of terrigenous DOC during transport through estuaries, shelves and in the deep basin. DOC data indicate that flow-weighted concentrations in the two largest North American arctic rivers, the Yukon (625μM) and the Mackenzie (382 μM), are lower than in the three largest Eurasian arctic rivers, the Ob (825 μM), the Yenesey (858 μM) and the Lena (917 μM). A fluorometric indicator of chromophoric dissolved organic matter (CDOM) that has provided estimates of terrigenous DOC concentrations in the Eurasian Arctic was not correlated with DOC concentrations in the Amerasian marine waters studied, except below the upper Arctic Ocean halocline. Nutrient distributions and concentrations as well as derived nutrient ratios suggest the CDOM fluorometer may be responding to the release of chromophoric materials from continental shelf sediments. Shipboard incubation experiments with undisturbed sediment cores indicate that continental shelf sediments on the Bering and Chukchi Sea shelves are likely to be a net source of DOC to the Arctic Ocean.