Modelling landscape controls on dissolved organic carbon sources and fluxes to streams

J. J. Dick*, D. Tetzlaff, C. Birkel, C. Soulsby

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

74 Citations (Scopus)
10 Downloads (Pure)


Catchment dissolved organic carbon (DOC) fluxes are governed by complex interactions, which control biogeochemical processes generating DOC and hydrological connectivity, facilitating transport through the landscape to streams. This paper presents the development of a coupled hydrological-biogeochemical model for a northern watershed with organic-rich soils, to simulate daily DOC concentrations. The parsimonious model design allows the relative importance of DOC fluxes from the major landscape units (e.g. hillslopes, groundwater and riparian saturation area) to be determined. The dynamic extent of the saturated riparian zone, which at maximum wetness comprised 40 % of the drainage area, contributed 84 % of DOC to the stream, of which 16 % was derived from the hillslope soils. This shows the disproportional riparian influence on stream water chemistry and the importance of the non-linearity in hydrological connectivity. The temporal connectivity of each of the landscape units was dependent on antecedent moisture conditions, with highly transient connections between the hillslope and valley bottom saturated area, which were entirely disconnected during the driest periods. The groundwater contribution remained constant, but its relative importance increased during the driest periods. The study emphasises the importance of conceptualising hydrological connectivity and its relation to hydroclimatic factors, as well soil biogeochemical processes, when modelling stream water DOC.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)361-374
Number of pages14
Issue number2-3
Early online date30 Oct 2014
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2015

Bibliographical note

Acknowledgments We thank the Natural Environment Research Council NERC (project NE/K000268/1) for funding. Iain Malcolm and staff at Marine Scotland (Pitlochry) are also thanked for the provision of data from the AWS as are the Scottish Environmental Protection Agency and British Atmospheric Data Centre for the provision of meteorological data.


  • Biogeochemical models
  • Connectivity
  • DOC
  • Landscape units
  • Runoff processes
  • Upland catchments


Dive into the research topics of 'Modelling landscape controls on dissolved organic carbon sources and fluxes to streams'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this