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Publications in Journal of Geophysical Research: Biogeosciences by NOMIS researchers

NOMIS Researcher(s)

The biogeochemistry of rapidly retreating Andean glaciers is poorly understood, and Ecuadorian glacier dissolved organic matter (DOM) composition is unknown. This study examined molecular composition and carbon isotopes of DOM from supraglacial and outflow streams (n = 5 and 14, respectively) across five ice capped volcanoes in Ecuador. Compositional metrics were paired with streamwater isotope analyses (δ18O) to assess if outflow DOM composition was associated with regional precipitation gradients and thus an atmospheric origin of glacier DOM. Ecuadorian glacier outflows exported ancient, biolabile dissolved organic carbon (DOC), and DOM contained a high relative abundance (RA) of aliphatic and peptide-like compounds (≥27%RA). Outflows were consistently more depleted in Δ14C-DOC (i.e., older) compared to supraglacial streams (mean −195.2 and −61.3‰ respectively), perhaps due to integration of spatially heterogenous and variably aged DOM pools across the supraglacial environment, or incorporation of aged subglacial OM as runoff was routed to the outflow. Across Ecuador, Δ14C-DOC enrichment was associated with decreased aromaticity of DOM, due to increased contributions of organic matter (OM) from microbial processes or atmospheric deposition of recently fixed and subsequently degraded OM (e.g., biomass burning byproducts). There was a regional gradient between glacier outflow DOM composition and streamwater δ18O, suggesting covariation between regional precipitation gradients and the DOM exported from glacier outflows. Ultimately, this highlights that atmospheric deposition may exert a control on glacier outflow DOM composition, suggesting regional air circulation patterns and precipitation sources in part determine the origins and quality of OM exported from glacier environments. © 2023. American Geophysical Union. All Rights Reserved.

Research field(s)
Natural Sciences, Earth & Environmental Sciences, Meteorology & Atmospheric Sciences