The relationship between dissolved organic carbon in stream water and soil organic carbon pools at different spatial scales Academic Article uri icon


  • The relationship between stream water DOC concentrations and soil organic C pools was investigated at a range of spatial scales in subcatchments of the River Dee system in north-east Scotland. Catchment percentage peat cover and soil C pools, calculated using local, national and international soils databases, were related to mean DOC concentrations in streams draining small- (<5 km2), medium- (12-38 km2) and large-scale (56-150 km2) catchments. The results show that, whilst soil C pool is a good predictor of stream water DOC concentration at all three scales, the strongest relationships were found in the small-scale catchments. In addition, in both the small- and large-scale catchments, percentage peat cover was as a good predictor of stream water DOC concentration as catchment soil C pool. The data also showed that, for a given soil C pool, streams draining lowland (<700 m) catchments had higher DOC concentrations than those draining upland (>700 m) catchments, suggesting that disturbance and land use may have a small effect on DOC concentration. Our results therefore suggest that the relationship between stream water DOC concentration and catchment soil C pools exists at a range of spatial scales and this relationship appears to be sufficiently robust to be used to predict the effects of changes in catchment soil C storage on stream water DOC concentration.

published proceedings


author list (cited authors)

  • Aitkenhead, J. A., Hope, D., & Billett, M. F.

citation count

  • 207

complete list of authors

  • Aitkenhead, JA||Hope, D||Billett, MF

publication date

  • June 1999