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Journal of Environmental Radioactivity
Vol. 128, No.
xx, 2014; Pages: 2732

Seasonal and snowmelt-driven changes in the water-extractable organic carbon dynamics in a cool-temperate Japanese forest soil, estimated using the bomb-14C tracer

Takahiro Nakanishi, Mariko Atarashi-Andoh, Jun Koarashi, Yoko Saito-Kokubu, Keizo Hirai

Research Group for Environmental Science, Nuclear Science and Engineering Directorate, Japan Atomic Energy Agency, Ibaraki 319-1195, Japan.


Water-extractable organic carbon (WEOC) in soil consists of a mobile and bioavailable portion of the dissolved organic carbon (DOC) pool. WEOC plays an important role in dynamics of soil organic carbon (SOC) and transport of radionuclides in forest soils. Although considerable research has been conducted on the importance of recent litter versus older soil organic matter as WEOC sources in forest soil, a more thorough evaluation of the temporal pattern of WEOC is necessary. We investigated the seasonal variation in WEOC in a Japanese cool-temperate beech forest soil by using the carbon isotopic composition (14C and 13C) of WEOC as a tracer for the carbon sources. Our observations demonstrated that fresh leaf litter DOC significantly contributed to WEOC in May (35–52%) when the spring snowmelt occurred because of the high water flux and low temperature. In the rainy season, increases in the concentration of WEOC and the proportion of hydrophobic compounds were caused by high microbial activity under wetter conditions. From summer to autumn, the WEOC in the mineral soil horizons was also dominated by microbial release from SOC (>90%). These results indicate that the origin and dynamics of WEOC are strongly controlled by seasonal events such as the spring snowmelt and the rainy season's intense rainfall.

Keywords: 14C; 13C; WEOC; Carbon dynamics; Snowmelt; Forest soil.

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