, Volume 20, Issue 4, pp 781–795 | Cite as

Modeling Allochthonous Dissolved Organic Carbon Mineralization Under Variable Hydrologic Regimes in Boreal Lakes

  • Dominic Vachon
  • Yves T. Prairie
  • François Guillemette
  • Paul A. del Giorgio


Here, we explore the interaction between hydrology and the reactivity of allochthonous dissolved organic carbon (DOCalloch) in determining the potential of DOCalloch to generate CO2 through biological and photo-chemical mineralization in boreal lakes. We developed a mechanistic model that integrates the reactivity continuum (RC) concept to reconstruct in-lake mineralization of DOCalloch under variable hydrologic conditions using empirical measurements of DOCalloch concentrations and reactivity as model inputs. The model predicts lake DOCalloch concentration (L-DOCalloch) and its average overall reactivity \( \left( {\bar{K}_{\text{alloch}} } \right) \), which integrates the distribution of DOCalloch ages within the lake as a function of the DOC loading (DOCin), the initial reactivity of this DOCin (k 0), and the lake water residence time (WRT). The modeled DOCalloch mineralization rates and concentrations were in agreement with expectations based on observed and published values of ambient lake DOC concentrations and reactivity. Results from this modeling exercise reveal that the interaction between WRT and k 0 is a key determinant of the ambient concentration and reactivity of lake DOCalloch, which represents the bulk of DOC in most of these lakes. The steady-state \( \left( {\bar{K}_{\text{alloch}} } \right) \) also represents the proportion of CO2 that can be extracted from DOCalloch during its transit through lakes, and partly explains the patterns in surface water pCO2 oversaturation that have been observed across gradients of lake size and volume. We estimate that in-lake DOCalloch mineralization could potentially contribute on average 30–40% of the observed surface carbon dioxide partial pressure (pCO2) across northern lakes. Applying the RC framework to in-lake DOCalloch dynamics improves our understanding of DOCalloch transformation and fate along the aquatic network, and results in a predictable mosaic of DOC reactivity and potential CO2 emissions across lakes within a landscape.


boreal lakes allochthonous DOC water residence time DOC reactivity CO2 production reactivity continuum 



We would like to thank Annick St-Pierre, Alice Parkes, Audrey Campeau, Mathieu Dumais, and Jean-Philippe Desindes for field and laboratory assistance and Adam Heathcote for the WRT calculations. We also thank Christopher Solomon and Jean-François Lapierre for helpful advice and discussions as well as HSC for continuous unwavering guidance. This project was part of the large-scale research program of the Industrial Research Chair in Carbon Biogeochemistry in Boreal Aquatic Systems (CarBBAS), co-funded by the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC) and Hydro-Québec to PDG. NSERC doctoral scholarship and UQAM-FARE scholarship was also attributed to DV.

Supplementary material

10021_2016_57_MOESM1_ESM.docx (184 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (DOCX 183 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Dominic Vachon
    • 1
    • 3
  • Yves T. Prairie
    • 1
  • François Guillemette
    • 2
  • Paul A. del Giorgio
    • 1
  1. 1.Groupe de Recherche Interuniversitaire en Limnologie (GRIL), Département des Sciences BiologiqueUniversité du Québec à MontréalMontrealCanada
  2. 2.Department of Earth, Ocean and Atmospheric ScienceFlorida State UniversityTallahasseeUSA
  3. 3.Department F.-A. Forel for Environmental and Aquatic SciencesUniversity of GenevaGenevaSwitzerland

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