Virginia Institute of Marine Science
Rivers are an important component of the terrestrial-aquatic ocean continuum as they serve as a conduit for transporting carbon from the land to the coastal ocean. It is essential to track the fate of this carbon, including how much carbon is buried in the riverbed, outgassed to the atmosphere, and exported to the ocean. However, it is often difficult to quantify these carbon transport processes on the watershed scale because observational data obtained by field surveys can only be used to estimate the magnitude of these processes at distinct points. In this study, we used a coupled terrestrial-aquatic ecosystem model to assess the century-long full carbon budget of the riverine ecosystem across the watersheds of Chesapeake Bay and Delaware Bay. In addition, we examined the individual and combined impacts of climate change and anthropogenic activities on these terrestrial ecosystems and the resultant CO2emissions of their associated rivers. We found that climate variability and land conversion (from cropland to impervious surfaces and forest) are the most important factors governing the long-term change in riverine carbon dynamics. We also highlighted the importance of riverine CO2 emissions in the overall regional carbon budget.
© 2021. American Geophysical Union.
Yao, Yuanzi; Tian, Hanqin; Pan, Shufen; Najjar, Raymond G.; Friedrichs, Marjorie A.M.; and et al, Riverine Carbon Cycling Over the Past Century in the Mid-Atlantic Region of the United States (2021). JGR Biogeosciences, 126(e2020JG005968).