Importance of Considered Organic Versus Inorganic Source of Carbon to Lakes for Calculating Net Effect on Landscape C Budgets

Weiqi Lu, Shilu Wang, Kevin M. Yeager, Fang Liu, Qiangsheng Huang, Yuxue Yang, Peng Xiang, Yingchun Lü, Cong Qiang Liu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

19 Scopus citations


Lakes and reservoirs transform, emit, and bury carbon that is exported from land and are thus significant components of terrestrial carbon budgets. Their significance is often assessed by integrating these water bodies into terrestrial primary production. However, the transfer of inorganic carbon (IC) is likely a sticking point for these integrations because IC is not part of net ecosystem production. Here we integrated carbon evasion and organic carbon (OC) burial in a lake in the context of inorganic and OC cycling in a karst catchment from a system perspective. The lake emitted carbon dioxide (CO2) and buried OC at rates of 1.0 ± 0.2 and 0.9 ± 0.2 g C m−2 a−1, respectively, approximately equaling 13% and 11% of catchment net ecosystem production, respectively. These proportions represent significant influences on terrestrial carbon budgets, given an organic origin. However, catchment carbon export is dominated by IC that is derived from carbonates dissolved by soil CO2. Lake CO2 evasion accounts for less than 0.1% of soil CO2 efflux, suggesting little potential in significantly altering terrestrial carbon budgets. This comparison indicates the significance of aquatic CO2 evasion, requiring an adjustment of terrestrial carbon budgets to recognize their dependence on carbon origins. The significance may be overstated if inorganic origin is ignored. Our study suggests that a careful reassessment of the significance of CO2 evasion and OC burial in freshwater ecosystems to local and global carbon budgets, with full consideration of their sources, is necessary and pressing.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1302-1317
Number of pages16
JournalJournal of Geophysical Research: Biogeosciences
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 2018

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
©2018. American Geophysical Union. All Rights Reserved.


  • CO evasion
  • lakes and reservoirs
  • landscape C budgets
  • organic carbon burial
  • origins of carbon

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Water Science and Technology
  • Forestry
  • Aquatic Science
  • Soil Science
  • Paleontology
  • Ecology
  • Atmospheric Science


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