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Journal Articles Earth Surface Dynamics Year : 2024

Channel cross-section heterogeneity of particulate organic carbon transport in the Huanghe

Yutian Ke
  • Function : Author
Damien Calmels
  • Function : Author
Julien Bouchez
Marc Massault
  • Function : Author
Benjamin Chetelat
  • Function : Author
Aurélie Noret
  • Function : Author
Hongming Cai
  • Function : Author
Jiubin Chen
Jérôme Gaillardet


Abstract. The Huanghe (Yellow River), one of the largest turbid river systems in the world, has long been recognized as a major contributor of suspended particulate matter (SPM) to the ocean. However, over the last few decades, the SPM export flux of the Huanghe has decreased over 90 % due to the high management, impacting the global export of particulate organic carbon (POC). To better constrain sources and modes of transport of POC beyond the previously investigated transportation of POC near the channel surface, SPM samples were for the first time collected over a whole channel cross-section in the lower Huanghe. Riverine SPM samples were analyzed for particle size and major element contents, as well as for POC content and dual carbon isotopes (13C and 14C). Clear vertical and lateral heterogeneities of the physical and chemical properties of SPM are observed within the river cross-section. For instance, finer SPM carry more POC in general with higher 14C activity near the surface of the right bank. Notably, we discuss how bank erosion in the alluvial plain is likely to generate lateral heterogeneity in POC composition. The Huanghe POC is millennial-aged (4020 ± 500 radiocarbon years) and dominated by organic carbon (OC) from the biosphere, while the lithospheric fraction is ca. 12 %. The mobilization of aged and refractory OC, including radiocarbon-dead biospheric OC, from deeper soil horizons of the loess–paleosol sequence through erosion in the Chinese Loess Plateau is an important mechanism contributing to fluvial POC in the Huanghe drainage basin. Altogether, anthropogenic activities can drastically change the compositions and transport dynamics of fluvial POC, consequentially altering the feedback of the source-to-sink trajectory of a river system to regional and global carbon cycles.
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hal-04491141 , version 1 (13-03-2024)




Yutian Ke, Damien Calmels, Julien Bouchez, Marc Massault, Benjamin Chetelat, et al.. Channel cross-section heterogeneity of particulate organic carbon transport in the Huanghe. Earth Surface Dynamics, 2024, 12 (1), pp.347-365. ⟨10.5194/esurf-12-347-2024⟩. ⟨hal-04491141⟩
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