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Research article - Peer-reviewed, 2009

Spatial and Seasonal Variations in Stream Water δ34S-Dissolved Organic Matter in Northern Sweden

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


The discharge of terrestrial dissolved organic matter (DOM) by streams is an important cross-system linkage that strongly influences downstream aquatic ecosystems. Isotopic tracers are important tools that can help to unravel the source of DOM from different terrestrial compartments in the landscape. Here we demonstrate the spatial and seasonal variation of delta S-34 of DOM in 70 boreal streams to test if the tracer could provide new insights into the origin of DOM. We found large spatial and seasonal variations in stream water delta S-34-DOM values ranging from -5.2 parts per thousand to + 9.6 parts per thousand with an average of +4.0 +/- 0.6 (N=62; average and 95% confidence interval). Large seasonal variations were found in stream water delta S-34-DOM values: for example, a shift of more than 10 parts per thousand during the spring snowmelt in a wetland-dominated stream. Spatial differences were also observed during the winter base flow with higher delta S-34-DOM values in the fourth-order Krycklan stream at the outlet of the 68 km(2) compared to the small (<1 km(2)) headwater streams. Our data clearly show that the delta S-34-DOM values have the potential to be used as a tracer to identify and generate new insights about terrestrial DOM sources in the boreal landscape.

Published in

Environmental Science and Technology
2009, Volume: 43, number: 2, pages: 447-452

    UKÄ Subject classification

    Environmental Sciences related to Agriculture and Land-use

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