Articles | Volume 13, issue 18
Research article
29 Sep 2016
Research article |  | 29 Sep 2016

Variability in runoff fluxes of dissolved and particulate carbon and nitrogen from two watersheds of different tree species during intense storm events

Mi-Hee Lee, Jean-Lionel Payeur-Poirier, Ji-Hyung Park, and Egbert Matzner

Abstract. Heavy storm events may increase the amount of organic matter in runoff from forested watersheds as well as the relation of dissolved to particulate organic matter. This study evaluated the effects of monsoon storm events on the runoff fluxes and on the composition of dissolved (< 0.45 µm) and particulate (0.7 µm to 1 mm) organic carbon and nitrogen (DOC, DON, POC, PON) in a mixed coniferous/deciduous (mixed watershed) and a deciduous forested watershed (deciduous watershed) in South Korea. During storm events, DOC concentrations in runoff increased with discharge, while DON concentrations remained almost constant. DOC, DON and NO3–N fluxes in runoff increased linearly with discharge pointing to changing flow paths from deeper to upper soil layers at high discharge, whereas nonlinear responses of POC and PON fluxes were observed likely due to the origin of particulate matter from the erosion of mineral soil along the stream benches. The integrated C and N fluxes in runoff over the 2-month study period were in the order of DOC > POC and NO3–N > DON > PON. The integrated DOC fluxes in runoff during the study period were much larger at the deciduous watershed (16 kg C ha−1) than at the mixed watershed (7 kg C ha−1), while the integrated NO3–N fluxes were higher at the mixed watershed (5.2 kg N ha−1) than at the deciduous watershed (2.9 kg N ha−1). The latter suggests a larger N uptake by deciduous trees. Integrated fluxes of POC and PON were similar at both watersheds. The composition of organic matter in soils and runoff indicates that the contribution of near-surface flow to runoff was larger at the deciduous than at the mixed watershed. Our results demonstrate different responses of particulate and dissolved C and N in runoff to storm events as a combined effect of tree species composition and watershed specific flow paths.

Short summary
Heavy storm events may increase the organic matter fluxes from forested watersheds and deteriorate water quality. Our study in two forested watershed in Korea revealed, that a larger proportion of coniferous forests likely leads to less organic carbon and larger of inorganic nitrogen fluxes to the receiving surface water bodies. More severe monsoon storms in the future will increase the fluxes of dissolved organic matter.
Final-revised paper