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Research article2009Peer reviewed

Landscape variations in stream water SO42- and δ34SSO4 in a boreal stream network

Bjorkvald, Louise; Giesler, Reiner; Laudon, Hjalmar; Humborg, Christoph; Morth, Carl-Magnus


Despite reduced anthropogenic deposition during the last decades, deposition sulphate may still play an important role in the biogeochemical cycles of S and many catchments may act as net sources of S that may remain for several decades. The aim of this study is to elucidate the temporal and spatial dynamics of both SO42- and delta S-34(SO4) in stream water from catchments with varying percentage of wetland and forest coverage and to determine their relative importance for catchment losses of S. Stream water samples were collected from 15 subcatchments ranging in size from 3 to 6780 ha, in a boreal stream network, northern Sweden. In forested catchments (<2% wetland cover) S-SO42- concentrations in stream water averaged 1.7 mg L-1 whereas in wetland dominated catchments (>30% wetland cover) the concentrations averaged 0.3 mg L-1. A significant negative relationship was observed between S-SO42- and percentage wetland coverage (r(2) = 0.77, p < 0.001) and the annual export of stream water SO42- and wetland coverage (r(2) = 0.76 p < 0.001). The percentage forest coverage was on the other hand positively related to stream water SO42- concentrations and the annual export of stream water SO42- (r(2) = 0.77 and r(2) = 0.79, respectively). The annual average delta S-34(SO4) value in wetland dominated streams was +7.6%omicron. and in streams of forested catchments +6.7%omicron. At spring flood the delta S-34(SO4) values decreased in all streams by 1%omicron to 5%omicron. The delta S-34(SO4) values in all streams were higher than the delta S-34(SO4) value of +4.7%omicron in precipitation (snow). The export of S ranged from 0.5 kg S ha(-1) yr(-1) (wetland headwater stream) to 3.8 kg S ha(-1) yr(-1) (forested headwater stream). With an average S deposition in open field of 1.3 kg S ha(-1) yr(-1) (2002-2006) the mass balance results in a net export of S from all catchments, except in catchments with >30% wetland. The high temporal and spatial resolution of this study demonstrates that the reducing environments of wetlands play a key role for the biogeochemistry of S in boreal landscapes and are net sinks of S. Forested areas, on the other hand were net sources of S. (C) 2009 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

Published in

Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta
2009, Volume: 73, number: 16, pages: 4648-4660

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    Environmental Sciences related to Agriculture and Land-use

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