Journal of Paleolimnology

, Volume 45, Issue 4, pp 507–518 | Cite as

Paleoecological evidence of major declines in total organic carbon concentrations since the nineteenth century in four nemoboreal lakes

  • Laura Cunningham
  • Kevin Bishop
  • Eva Mettävainio
  • Peter Rosén
Original paper


A decade of widespread increases in surface water concentrations of total organic carbon (TOC) in some regions has raised questions about longer term patterns in this important constituent of water chemistry. This study uses near-infrared spectroscopy (NIRS) to infer lake water TOC far beyond the decade or two of observational data generally available. An expanded calibration dataset of 140 lakes across Sweden covering a TOC gradient from 0.7 to 24.7 mg L−1 was used to establish a relationship between the NIRS signal from surface sediments (0–0.5 cm) and the TOC concentration of the water mass. Internal cross-validation of the model resulted in an R 2 of 0.72 with a root mean squared error of calibration (RMSECV) of 2.6 mg L−1. The TOC concentrations reconstructed from surface sediments in four Swedish lakes were typically within the range of concentrations observed in the monitoring data during the period represented by each sediment layer. TOC reconstructions from the full sediment cores of four lakes indicated that TOC concentrations were approximately twice as high a century ago.


Carbon cycling Dissolved organic carbon Near infrared spectroscopy (NIRS) Paleolimnology Sediment Sweden 



This research was supported by the Climate Impacts Research Centre (CIRC). We would like to thank Christian Bigler for providing lake sediments and data for the northern calibration set. The SLU Dept of Aquatic Sciences and Assessment is acknowledged for funding collection of sediment from the 40 lakes in S Sweden and for the provision of environmental monitoring data. We would also like to thank Annika Holmgren, Nina Stenbacka, Evastina Grahn and Thomas Westin for field and laboratory assistance.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  • Laura Cunningham
    • 1
    • 2
  • Kevin Bishop
    • 3
  • Eva Mettävainio
    • 1
    • 4
  • Peter Rosén
    • 1
  1. 1.Climate Impacts Research CentreUmeå University981 07AbiskoSweden
  2. 2.School of Geography & GeosciencesUniversity of St AndrewsFifeUK
  3. 3.Department of Environmental AssessmentSwedish University of Agricultural SciencesUppsalaSweden
  4. 4.Department of Physical Geography and Quaternary GeologyStockholm UniversityStockholmSweden

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