Hang Wen, Si‐Liang Li, Xi Chen, Caiqing Qin, Li Li

Amplified Production and Export of Dissolved Inorganic Carbon During Hot and Wet Subtropical Monsoon

  • Water Science and Technology

AbstractUnderstanding the origins and processes of riverine dissolved inorganic carbon (DIC) is crucial for predicting the global carbon cycle with projected, more frequent climate extremes yet our knowledge has remained fragmented. Here we ask: How and how much do DIC production and export vary across space (shallow vs. deep, uphill vs. depression) and time (daily, seasonal, and annual)? How do the relative contributions of biogenic (soil respiration) and geogenic (carbonate weathering) sources differ under different temperature and hydrological conditions? We answer these questions using a catchment‐scale reactive transport model constrained by stream flow, stable water isotopes, stream DIC, and carbon isotope data from a headwater karstic catchment in southwest China in a subtropical monsoon climate. Results show climate seasonality regulates the timing of DIC production and export. In hot‐wet seasons, high temperature accelerates soil respiration and carbonate weathering (up to a factor of three) via elevating soil CO2 and carbonate solubility, whereas high discharge enhances export by two orders of magnitude compared to cold‐dry seasons. Carbonate weathering is driven more by soil CO2 than water flow. At the annual scale, 92.9% and 7.1% of DIC was produced in shallow and deep zone, respectively, whereas 64.5% and 35.5% of DIC was exported from shallow and deep zone, respectively. These results highlight the uniqueness of subtropical karst areas as synchronous reactors and transporters of DIC during the hot‐wet monsoon, contrasting the asynchronous production and export in other climate regions. A future hotter and wetter climate with more intensive storms in the region may further intensify DIC production and export, accentuating the potential of subtropical karst regions as global hot spots for carbon cycling.

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