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Research article - Peer-reviewed, 2021

Synchronous evaporation and aquatic primary production in tropical river networks

Zhong, Jun; Wallin, Marcus B.; Wang, Wanfa; Li, Si-Liang; Guo, Laodong; Dong, Kejun; Ellam, Rob M.; Liu, Cong-Qiang; Xu, Sheng


Rivers play an important role in global water and carbon cycling, but there are still large uncertainties concerning evaporation and aquatic photosynthesis. Here we combined measurements of water chemistry, isotopic compositions (i.e., delta D-w, delta O-18(W), delta C-13(DIC) and Delta C-14(DIC)) and geographic characteristics (i.e., river width) to elucidate in-stream hydrological and biogeochemical processes across rivers in Hainan Island, China. The results showed that dissolved inorganic carbon (DIC) in river waters was largely of modern origin, with about 95% from contemporary biogenic sources based on an isotopic mass balance of Delta C-14(DIC). Significant evaporation and aquatic primary production co-occurred in these tropical rivers with large amounts of water and DIC being rapidly turned over in the water column, altering the water cycle and the carbon balance. High rates of evaporation and aquatic primary production were observed in the headwater segments, with narrow river width but broad available reactive surface area at the airwater interface. The asymmetric aquatic photosynthesis at different river segments caused the spatial heterogeneities of dissolved solutes. The results suggest that the available reactive area at the water-air interface is responsible for synchronous water loss and dissolved carbon evolution in flat tropical rivers. This study provides evidence that intense evaporation and aquatic photosynthesis mainly occurred in headwater segments, which has implications for understanding global carbon cycling. (C) 2021 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.


Carbon cycling; Aquatic photosynthesis; Evaporation; Tropical Rivers; Headwaters

Published in

Water Research
2021, volume: 200, article number: 117272

Authors' information

Zhong, Jun
Tianjin University
Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Department of Aquatic Sciences and Assessment
Wang, Wanfa
Tianjin University
Li, Si-Liang
Tianjin University
Guo, Laodong
University of Wisconsin Milwaukee
Dong, Kejun
Tianjin University
Ellam, Rob M.
University of Glasgow
Liu, Cong-Qiang
Tianjin University
Xu, Sheng
Tianjin University

UKÄ Subject classification

Oceanography, Hydrology, Water Resources

Publication Identifiers


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