Sources and the flux pattern of dissolved carbon in rivers of the Yenisey basin draining the Central Siberian Plateau Academic Article uri icon


  • Frequent measurements of dissolved organic (DOC) and inorganic (DIC) carbon concentrations in rivers during snowmelt, the entire ice-free season, and winter were made in five large watersheds (15 000-174 000km2) of the Central Siberian Plateau (Yenisey River basin). These differ in the degree of continuous permafrost coverage, mean annual air temperature, and the proportion of tundra and forest vegetation. With an annual DOC export from the catchment areas of 2.8-4.7gCm-2 as compared to an annual DIC export of 1.0-2.8gCm-2, DOC was the dominant component of terrigenous C released to rivers. There was strong temporal variation in the discharge of DOC and DIC. Like for other rivers of the pan-arctic and boreal zones, snowmelt dominated annual fluxes, being 55-71% for water runoff, 64-82% for DOC and 37-41% for DIC. Likewise, DOC and DIC exhibited also a strong spatial variation in C fluxes, with both dissolved C species decreasing from south to north. The rivers of the southern part of the plateau had the largest flow-weighted DOC concentrations among those previously reported for Siberian rivers, but the smallest flow-weighted DIC concentrations. In the study area, DOC and DIC fluxes were negatively correlated with the distribution of continuous permafrost and positively correlated with mean annual air temperature. A synthesis of literature data shows similar trends from west to east, with an eastward decrease of dissolved C concentrations and an increased proportion of DOC in the total dissolved C flux. It appears that there are two contemporary limitations for river export of terrigenous C across Siberia: (1)low productivity of ecosystems with respect to potentially mobilizable organic C, slow weathering rates with concomitant small formation of bicarbonate, and/or wildfire disturbance limit the pools of organic and inorganic C that can be mobilized for transport in rivers (source-limited), and (2)mobilization of available pools of C is constrained by low precipitation in the severe continental climate of interior Siberia (transport-limited). Climate warming may reduce the source limitation by enhancing primary production and weathering rates, while causes leading to surmounting the transport limitation remain debatable due to uncertainties in predictions of precipitation trends and other likely sources of reported increase of river discharges. 2011 IOP Publishing Ltd.

published proceedings


author list (cited authors)

  • Prokushkin, A. S., Pokrovsky, O. S., Shirokova, L. S., Korets, M. A., Viers, J., Prokushkin, S. G., ... McDowell, W. H.

citation count

  • 72

complete list of authors

  • Prokushkin, AS||Pokrovsky, OS||Shirokova, LS||Korets, MA||Viers, J||Prokushkin, SG||Amon, RMW||Guggenberger, G||McDowell, WH

publication date

  • January 2011