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Durham University

Department of Earth Sciences


Publication details for Dr. Ian Boothroyd

Boothroyd, I. M., Worrall, F. & Allott, T. E. H. (2015). Variations in dissolved organic carbon concentrations across peatland hillslopes. Journal of Hydrology 530: 372-383.

Author(s) from Durham


Peatlands are important terrestrial carbon stores and dissolved organic carbon (DOC) is one of the most important contributors to carbon budgets in peatland systems. Many studies have investigated factors affecting DOC concentration in peatland systems, yet hillslope position has been thus far overlooked as a variable that could influence DOC cycling. This study investigates the importance of hillslope position with regard to DOC cycling. Two upland peat hillslopes were studied in the Peak District, UK, to determine what impact, if any, hillslope position had upon DOC concentration. Hillslope position was found to be a significant factor affecting variation in soil pore water DOC concentration, with bottom-slope positions having significantly lower DOC concentrations than up-slope because of dilution of DOC as water moves down-slope and is flushed out of the system via lateral throughflow. Water table drawdown on steeper mid-slopes increased DOC concentrations through increased DOC production and extended residence times allowing a build-up of humic-rich DOC compounds. Hillslope position did not significantly affect DOC concentrations in surface runoff water because of the dilution of near-surface soil pore water by precipitation inputs, while stream water had similar water chemistry properties to soil pore water under low-flow conditions.