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Research article2023Peer reviewedOpen access

Decadal increase in groundwater inorganic carbon concentrations across Sweden

Klaus, Marcus


Groundwater concentrations of dissolved inorganic carbon and carbon dioxide have increased by 28% and 49%, respectively, across Sweden between 1980 and 2020 due to partial recovery from historic anthropogenic acid deposition and increased soil respiration, suggest geochemical model calculations.Groundwater is one of the largest continental carbon reservoirs and tightly linked to globally important carbon fluxes such as uptake on land, degassing from inland waters and delivery to oceans. Despite emerging evidence that these fluxes are sensitive to environmental changes, long-term carbon dynamics in groundwater remain widely unknown. Here I show that dissolved inorganic carbon and carbon dioxide concentrations in groundwater, calculated from environmental monitoring data (e.g. alkalinity, pH), have increased on average by 28% and 49%, respectively, across Sweden during 1980-2020. I attribute the observed changes mainly to a partial recovery from atmospheric sulfate deposition and associated shifts in weathering pathways, but also to enhanced soil respiration. The results highlight previously neglected long-term and large-scale dynamics in groundwater carbon cycling. These dynamics should be included in carbon cycle models for accurate evaluations and predictions of the effects of environmental changes on landscape and global carbon stocks and fluxes.

Published in

Communications earth & environment
2023, Volume: 4, number: 1, article number: 221

    UKÄ Subject classification

    Climate Research
    Geosciences, Multidisciplinary

    Publication identifier


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