Skip to main content
Research article - Peer-reviewed, 2022

The emerging role of drought as a regulator of dissolved organic carbon in boreal landscapes

Tiwari, Tejshree; Sponseller, Ryan; Laudon, Hjalmar


One likely consequence of global climate change is an increased frequency and intensity of droughts at high latitudes. Here we use a 17-year record from 13 nested boreal streams to examine direct and lagged effects of summer drought on the quantity and quality of dissolved organic carbon (DOC) inputs from catchment soils. Protracted periods of drought reduced DOC concentrations in all catchments but also led to large stream DOC pulses upon rewetting. Concurrent changes in DOC optical properties and chemical character suggest that seasonal drying and rewetting trigger soil processes that alter the forms of carbon supplied to streams. Contrary to expectations, clearest drought effects were observed in larger watersheds, whereas responses were most muted in smaller, peatland-dominated catchments. Collectively, our results indicate that summer drought causes a fundamental shift in the seasonal distribution of DOC concentrations and character, which together operate as primary controls over the ecological and biogeochemical functioning of northern aquatic ecosystems.Long-term records from boreal streams indicate strong seasonal redistributions of dissolved organic carbon concentrations and quality linked to the severity of summer drought conditions

Published in

Nature Communications
2022, volume: 13, article number: 5125

Authors' information

Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Department of Forest Ecology and Management
Sponseller, Ryan
Umea University
Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Department of Forest Ecology and Management

UKÄ Subject classification

Physical Geography
Climate Research

Publication Identifiers


URI (permanent link to this page)