Changes in the Dissolved Organic Carbon Concentrations of Stream and Soil Water in Response to a Watershed-Scale Calcium Addition and Recovery from Acidification

Wednesday, 17 December 2014
Colin B Fuss1, Charles T Driscoll2 and Gabrielle Renée Ard2, (1)Cary Institute of Ecosystem Studies, Millbrook, NY, United States, (2)Syracuse University, Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, Syracuse, NY, United States
Positive trends in surface water dissolved organic carbon (DOC) concentrations have been observed in recent decades across many, but not all, surface water monitoring sites in eastern North America and northern Europe. The drivers of these trends are not necessarily clear, although declining acidic deposition is often cited as a likely cause for increased DOC mobilization. Here we used long-term records (16-31 years) of monthly streamwater and soil solution chemistry data from two headwater catchments at the Hubbard Brook Experimental Forest (NH, USA) to evaluate DOC trends in response to the recovery from acidification. We compared the concentrations and trends of DOC in Hubbard Brook’s Watershed 6 (W6) and Watershed 1 (W1). W6 is the biogeochemical reference watershed and W1 underwent a treatment with calcium silicate in 1999 to mitigate the effects of long-term acid deposition. Streamwater DOC in W6 initially decreased through the 1980s and 1990s, but has leveled over the past 10-15 years, coincident with a period of modest pH increase. In contrast, W1 streamwater DOC concentrations have significantly increased since the calcium treatment which has led to more marked increases in pH. Greater mobilization of DOC in soil solution in W1 appears to be driving the higher streamwater DOC concentrations. We are analyzing these trends spatially within the watersheds and in conjunction with major solute chemistry to further explain the observed changes in DOC.