29 Jan 2024
 | 29 Jan 2024

Event based high resolution measurement of DOC-concentration and quality in a rural headwater catchment

Lukas Ditzel, Caroline Spill, and Matthias Gassmann

Abstract. The export of dissolved organic carbon (DOC) from small river systems is a significant factor in the global carbon cycle. DOC quality can be used to identify the sources of carbon in headwater systems. High-resolution in-situ measurements in small headwater catchments can unveil fast changing patterns of DOC export and DOC quality during events. In this study, the influence of precipitation events on DOC export and changing DOC quality was analyzed using highly resolved discharge and DOC concentration and quality data of 5-minute time steps. Data analysis was conducted using spearman correlation analysis, hysteresis analysis and visual comparison of pre-event and event conditions. Measurements took place from January 2021 until August 2022 in a German lower mountain catchment with predominantly agricultural land use. While DOC export was lower than in other catchments the DOC quality followed a well-observed seasonal pattern and was significantly influenced by the antecedent wetness of the catchment and the length of precipitation events. The results showed that the use of in-situ high resolution measurements can provide a detailed insight into the DOC export dynamics of a catchment and can help to identify the most important drivers of DOC quality changes.

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Lukas Ditzel, Caroline Spill, and Matthias Gassmann

Status: final response (author comments only)

Comment types: AC – author | RC – referee | CC – community | EC – editor | CEC – chief editor | : Report abuse
  • RC1: 'Comment on egusphere-2024-230', Anonymous Referee #1, 14 Apr 2024
    • AC1: 'Reply on RC1', Lukas Ditzel, 15 May 2024
  • RC2: 'Comment on egusphere-2024-230', Anonymous Referee #2, 08 May 2024
    • AC2: 'Reply on RC2', Lukas Ditzel, 25 May 2024
Lukas Ditzel, Caroline Spill, and Matthias Gassmann
Lukas Ditzel, Caroline Spill, and Matthias Gassmann


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Short summary
High temporal resolution in-situ measurements were used to detect changes in the patterns of dissolved organic carbon (DOC) quality and DOC export. DOC export dynamics shows the yearly DOC export is by a factor of ten smaller than expected. Hysteresis analysis implicates an activation of distant DOC sources during events in winter. Changes in the DOC quality seems to be controlled by factors such as season and the change of land use especially the rotation of crops on the near river farmlands.