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Dissolved carbon fluxes in a vegetation restoration area of an eroding landscape

Li, Jianye, Liu, Shuguang, Fu, Bojie, Wang, Jian
Water research 2019 v.152 pp. 106-116
carbon, carbon sequestration, ecological restoration, landscapes, rain, rain intensity, runoff, storms, topsoil, vegetation, China
Dissolved carbon (DC) is a critical component of the global carbon (C) cycle. DC transport occurs through water-driven erosion and infiltration during rain storms. To explore the specific role of DC flux in topsoil C pool dynamics during rainfall events and predict the trend of ratios of lateral versus vertical DC efflux from topsoil in a vegetation restoration area, we measured the major DC fluxes at four runoff plots, during rainfall events in an eroding soil landscape on the Chinese Loess Plateau. The results show that topsoil vertical DC efflux into deep soil layers accounted for approximately 98.7 (±1.0) % of the total dissolved carbon efflux in plots with vegetation versus 95.3% in a plot without vegetation. The carbon sequestration capacity of the top soil would be underestimated by up to 38 (±5) % if the vertical DC efflux was omitted. The ratios of lateral versus vertical DC efflux tended to increase with rainfall intensity. The results of this study improve understanding of the carbon cycle processes during rainfall events in general and estimation of carbon sequestration rates in vegetation restoration regions such as the Chinese Loess Plateau in particular.