Dissolved Organic Carbon in the High ArcticAugust 19, 2016 / Written by: Aaron Gronstal
A team of researchers studying samples from streams in the High Arctic has uncovered the lowest values measured thus far for stable carbon isotopic composition of dissolved organic matter (δ13C-DOC) in surface waters. When studying dissolved organic matter in environmental samples, scientists look at its stable carbon isotopic composition in order to learn about where the organic matter came from, and the extent to which it was processed by living organisms.
The new study outlines how biological activity has a significant impact on water chemistry in the streams, and indicates that environments with low amounts of dissolved organic carbon may be more widespread than previously thought. The High Arctic is a region that is currently undergoing rapid changes in climate, and the work could shed light on how these changes will affect carbon cycling in this fragile environment.
The study, “Origin and temporal variability of unusually low δ13C-DOC values in two High Arctic catchments,” was published in the Journal of Geophysical Research: Biogeosciences. The work was supported in part by the Exobiology and Evolutionary Biology Program and the NASA Astrobiology Institute, elements of the NASA Astrobiology Program.
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