Landscape-Scale Variability of Organic Carbon Burial by SW Greenland Lakes

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Lakes are a key feature of arctic landscapes and can be an important component of regional organic carbon (OC) budgets, but C burial rates are not well estimated. 210 Pb-dated sediment cores and carbon and organic matter (as loss-on-ignition) content were used to estimate OC burial for 16 lakes in SW Greenland. Burial rates were corrected for sediment focusing using the 210 Pb flux method. The study lakes span a range of water chemistries (conductivity range 25–3400 µS cm −1 ), areas (< 4–100 ha) and maximum depths (~ 10–50 m). The regional average focusing-corrected OC accumulation rate was ~ 2 g C m −2  y −1 prior to ~ 1950 and 3.6 g C m −2  y −1 after 1950. Among-lake variability in post-1950 OC AR was correlated with in-lake dissolved organic carbon concentration, conductivity, altitude and location along the fjord. Twelve lakes showed an increase in mean OC AR over the analyzed time period, ~ 1880–2000; as the study area was cooling until recently, this increase is probably attributable to other global change processes, for example, altered inputs of N or P. There are ~ 20,000 lakes in the study area ranging from ~ 1 ha to more than 130 km 2 , although over 83% of lakes are less than 10 ha. Extrapolating the mean post-1950 OC AR (3.6 g C m −2  y −1 ) to all lakes larger than 1000 ha and applying a lower rate of ~ 2 g C m −2  y −1 to large lakes (> 1000 ha) suggests a regional annual lake OC burial rate of ~ 10.14 × 10 9  g C y −1 post 1950. Given the low C content of soils in this area, lakes represent a substantial regional C store.


  • N. J. Anderson
  • P. G. Appleby
  • R. Bindler
  • I. Renberg
  • D. J. Conley
  • S. C. Fritz
  • V. J. Jones
  • E. J. Whiteford
  • H. Yang
External organisations
  • Loughborough University
  • University of Liverpool
  • Umeå University
  • University of Nebraska - Lincoln
  • University College London
  • Nottingham Trent University
Research areas and keywords

Subject classification (UKÄ) – MANDATORY

  • Geosciences, Multidisciplinary


  • arctic, biogenic silica, diatoms, DOC, nitrogen, soil carbon, tundra
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 2019
Publication categoryResearch