Simulation of DOM fluxes in a seasonal floodplain of the Okavango Delta, Botswana
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In order to examine dissolved organic matter (DOM) fluxes in seasonal wetland systems that expand and contract seasonally, a time-variable model of dissolved organic carbon (DOC) was developed for a seasonal floodplain in the Okavango Delta of Botswana. The model simulates DOC concentrations from March 2001 to November 2002, during which time DOC concentrations varied between 8 and 31mgCL−1. The model uses a continuously stirred tank reactor (CSTR) approach to describe the hydrologic and biogeochemical controls on DOC leached from litter within the floodplain and transported into the floodplain from upstream. In 2002, a fire burned the floodplain and less litter was available for leaching than in 2001. The model was driven by observations of discharge, water temperature, upstream DOC concentrations, and DOC leaching rates from leaching experiments. Leaching experiments with sedges and grasses indicated that on average 23mgDOCg−1 were leached during the first day ofwetting and 0.6mgDOCg−1 d−1 were continuously leached afterwards. Leaching experiments also showed a decreased amount of DOC released from burned litter and soils than from unburned litter and soils. A two-pool first-order decaymodel that represents both rapidly (0.14 d−1 (at 22 ◦C)) and slowly (0.045 d−1) decaying pools of DOC provided the best representation of observed patterns in DOC concentration in 2001. The decay rate of the first pool decreased by nearly half in 2002, when an estimated 78% of litter was removed by fire. Upstream DOC transport into the floodplain was the dominant source of DOC (representing approximately 70% and 75% of the DOC input in 2001 and 2002, respectively), followed by DOC leaching from litter and DOC originating from microbial sources. In 2001, decomposition (representing approximately 36% of the DOC loss), outflow to an adjacent floodplain (36%) and infiltration (28%) were the major removal mechanisms for DOM from the study floodplain. The large amount of DOC transported by infiltration implies storage of DOC in the subsurface, whichmay influence subsurface heterotrophic activity. In light of future climate change anticipated for the region, a scenario using a 2 ◦C increase in average water temperature and 10% reduction in upstream DOC mass was performed and resulted in significant (11%) reduction in annual DOC mass within the study floodplain.
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