Landscape-Scale Variability of Organic Carbon Burial by SW Greenland Lakes

N. J. Anderson, P. G. Appleby, R. Bindler, I. Renberg, D. J. Conley, S. C. Fritz, V. J. Jones, E. J. Whiteford, H. Yang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Scopus citations


Lakes are a key feature of arctic landscapes and can be an important component of regional organic carbon (OC) budgets, but C burial rates are not well estimated. 210Pb-dated sediment cores and carbon and organic matter (as loss-on-ignition) content were used to estimate OC burial for 16 lakes in SW Greenland. Burial rates were corrected for sediment focusing using the 210Pb flux method. The study lakes span a range of water chemistries (conductivity range 25–3400 µS cm−1), areas (< 4–100 ha) and maximum depths (~ 10–50 m). The regional average focusing-corrected OC accumulation rate was ~ 2 g C m−2 y−1 prior to ~ 1950 and 3.6 g C m−2 y−1 after 1950. Among-lake variability in post-1950 OC AR was correlated with in-lake dissolved organic carbon concentration, conductivity, altitude and location along the fjord. Twelve lakes showed an increase in mean OC AR over the analyzed time period, ~ 1880–2000; as the study area was cooling until recently, this increase is probably attributable to other global change processes, for example, altered inputs of N or P. There are ~ 20,000 lakes in the study area ranging from ~ 1 ha to more than 130 km2, although over 83% of lakes are less than 10 ha. Extrapolating the mean post-1950 OC AR (3.6 g C m−2 y−1) to all lakes larger than 1000 ha and applying a lower rate of ~ 2 g C m−2 y−1 to large lakes (> 1000 ha) suggests a regional annual lake OC burial rate of ~ 10.14 × 109 g C y−1 post 1950. Given the low C content of soils in this area, lakes represent a substantial regional C store.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1706-1720
Number of pages15
Issue number8
StatePublished - Dec 1 2019


  • DOC
  • arctic
  • biogenic silica
  • diatoms
  • nitrogen
  • soil carbon
  • tundra

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Environmental Chemistry
  • Ecology


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