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Modeling the production and transport of dissolved organic carbon from heterogeneous landscape

Variation of dissolved of organic carbon concentration in stream water is a consequence of process changes in the surrounding terrestrial environment. This study will focus on 1) Identify significant environmental factors controlling the spatial and temporal variation of DOC in terrestrial ecosystems of a watershed southeast of Boston, Massachusetts; 2) Model the DOC leaching from different land cover and examine the relationship between leaching flux and in-stream DOC. Our hypothesis is variations of in stream DOC is closely related to watershed properties and environmental factors at annual, seasonal, and daily scales, especially land cover type, watershed size and hydrology. To explore the relationship of hydrology and DOC variation at ungauged sub-basin, we examined the effectiveness of using simulated stream flow from Soil Water Assessment Tool (SWAT) to study terrestrial DOC dynamics. Our results demonstrated that streamflow, drainage area, and percent of wetland and forest were particularly strong predictors in watersheds with a large proportion of developed area. The resulting linear model is able to explain about 70.2% (R2=0.702) and 65.1% (R2=0.651) of the variance of in-stream DOC concentrations at seasonal and annual scales respectively. Results also suggest that more frequent DOC sampling is necessary to establish the quantitative relationship between simulated stream flows from the SWAT and in-stream DOC concentrations at daily scale. The physically based ecosystem model developed in this study shows that DOC leaching from various land cover are highly correlated (up to 80%) with in-stream DOC by using ecological process with incorporated different hydrological pathways. It shows that leaching of DOC from soil is a significant contributor to the in-stream DOC. The production of DOC is largely controlled by the vegetation type and soil texture. Considering the hydrologic control on DOC transport with different pathways of water at finer spatial and temporal scale highlights the need to identify the quantitative relationships between water and carbon flux.
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