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Environ Sci Technol. 2015 Jul 7;49(13):7614-22. doi: 10.1021/acs.est.5b00373. Epub 2015 Jun 22.

Organic Carbon Burial in Lakes and Reservoirs of the Conterminous United States.

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  • 1†U.S. Geological Survey, Colorado Water Science Center, Denver, Colorado 80225, United States.
  • 2‡U.S. Geological Survey, National Research Program, Denver, Colorado 80225, United States.
  • 3§U.S. Geological Survey, National Research Program, Boulder, Colorado 80303, United States.
  • 4⊥U.S. Geological Survey, Reston, Virginia 20192, United States.
  • 5#U.S. Geological Survey, Wisconsin Water Science Center, Madison, Wisconsin 53562, United States.


Organic carbon (OC) burial in lacustrine sediments represents an important sink in the global carbon cycle; however, large-scale OC burial rates are poorly constrained, primarily because of the sparseness of available data sets. Here we present an analysis of OC burial rates in water bodies of the conterminous U.S. (CONUS) that takes advantage of recently developed national-scale data sets on reservoir sedimentation rates, sediment OC concentrations, lake OC burial rates, and water body distributions. We relate these data to basin characteristics and land use in a geostatistical analysis to develop an empirical model of OC burial in water bodies of the CONUS. Our results indicate that CONUS water bodies sequester 20.8 (95% CI: 9.4-65.8) Tg C yr(-1), and spatial patterns in OC burial are strongly influenced by water body type, size, and abundance; land use; and soil and vegetation characteristics in surrounding areas. Carbon burial is greatest in the central and southeastern regions of the CONUS, where cultivation and an abundance of small water bodies enhance accumulation of sediment and OC in aquatic environments.

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