Modelling terrigenous DOC across the north west European Shelf: fate of riverine input and impact on air-sea CO2 fluxes

Powley, Helen R.; Polimene, Luca; Torres, Ricardo; Al Azhar, Muchamad; Bell, Victoria; Cooper, David; Holt, Jason ORCID:; Wakelin, Sarah ORCID:; Artioli, Yuri. 2024 Modelling terrigenous DOC across the north west European Shelf: fate of riverine input and impact on air-sea CO2 fluxes. Science of the Total Environment, 912, 168938. 13, pp.

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Terrigenous carbon in aquatic systems is increasingly recognised as an important part of the global carbon cycle. Despite this, the fate and distribution of terrigenous dissolved organic carbon (tDOC) in coastal and oceanic systems is poorly understood. We have implemented a theoretical framework for the degradation of tDOC across the land to ocean continuum in a 3D hydrodynamical-biogeochemical model on the North West European Shelf. A key feature of this model is that both photochemical and bacterial tDOC degradation rates are age dependant constituting an advance in our ability to describe carbon cycling in the marine environment. Over the time period 1986-2015, 182±17 Gmol yr−1 of riverine tDOC is input to the shelf. Results indicate that bacterial degradation is by far the most important process in removing tDOC on the shelf, contributing to 73±6 % (132±11 Gmol yr−1) of the total removal flux, while 21±3 % (39±6 Gmol yr−1) of riverine tDOC was advected away from the shelf and photochemical degradation removing 5±0.5 % of the riverine flux. Explicitly including tDOC in the model decreased the air-sea carbon dioxide (CO2) flux by 112±8 Gmol yr−1 (4±0.4 %), an amount approximately equivalent to the CO2 released by the UK chemical industry in 2020. The reduction is equivalent to 62 % of the riverine tDOC input to the shelf while approximately 17 % of riverine input is incorporated into the foodweb. This work can improve the assumptions of the fate of tDOC by Earth System Models and demonstrates that the inclusion of tDOC in models can impact ecosystem dynamics and change predicted global carbon budgets for the ocean.

Item Type: Publication - Article
Digital Object Identifier (DOI):
Groups/Sections (CEH only): Hydro-climate Risks (Science Area 2017-)
Soils and Land Use (Science Area 2017-)
ISSN: 0048-9697
Additional Keywords: terrestrial dissolved organic carbon, shelf seas, carbon budget, biogeochemical model, DOM, DOC, air-sea exchange, ARCHER2
NORA Subject Terms: Marine Sciences
Date made live: 14 Dec 2023 22:10 +0 (UTC)

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