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Biogeosciences An interactive open-access journal of the European Geosciences Union
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Volume 9, issue 5
Biogeosciences, 9, 1827–1844, 2012
© Author(s) 2012. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License.

Special issue: Biogeochemical fluxes in River-dominated Ocean Margins (RiOMars):...

Biogeosciences, 9, 1827–1844, 2012
© Author(s) 2012. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License.

Research article 24 May 2012

Research article | 24 May 2012

The composition and flux of particulate and dissolved carbohydrates from the Rhone River into the Mediterranean Sea

C. Panagiotopoulos1, R. Sempéré1, J. Para1, P. Raimbault1, C. Rabouille2, and B. Charrière1 C. Panagiotopoulos et al.
  • 1Aix-Marseille Univ., Mediterranean Institute of Oceanography (MIO), UMR 7294, CNRS/INSU, UMR 235, IRD, 13288, Marseille, Cedex 09; Université du Sud Toulon-Var (MIO), 83957, La Garde cedex, France
  • 2Laboratoire des Sciences du Climat et de l'Environnement (LSCE), Laboratoire Mixte CNRS-CEA, 1 Avenue de la Terrasse, 91190 Gif sur Yvette, France

Abstract. Carbohydrates are important components of the carbon cycle and may be used as indicators of the origin and the diagenetic status of marine and terrestrial organic matter. Nevertheless, comprehensive studies of both particulate (PCHO) and dissolved (DCHO) carbohydrates in rivers are scarce, and the seasonal and interannual variability of these compounds in relationship to the bulk particulate (POM) and dissolved organic matter (DOM) is largely unknown. For the period 2007–2009, we sampled once per month POM and DOM and measured the total suspended matter (TSM), POM, DOM, PCHO, and DCHO for the Rhône River, which flows into the Mediterranean Sea. Using these measurements, we estimated for the above parameters annual fluxes for the period 2007–2009. The estimated carbohydrate fluxes averaged 0.064 ± 0.026 × 1010 moles C yr−1 for PCHO and 0.042 ± 0.008 × 1010 moles C yr−1 DCHO, representing 6 % and 7 % of the annual flux of POC and DOC, respectively. During flood and low-water periods, POM variations were reflected into the PCHO pool, whereas this was not observed for DOC and DCHO, indicating a decoupling between particulate and dissolved organic matter. Our results also showed that flood and low-water periods may be differentiated using the ratios PCHO/DCHO and POC/DOC, which had a significant relationship.

Based on the carbohydrate abundances in both the PCHO and DCHO pools, we conclude that this material mainly derives from allochthonous sources (vascular plants, bacteria and soils). Moreover, during flood events, an enrichment in mannose in POM was observed, probably reflecting an angiosperm source (leaves or grasses). By expanding our results to the northwestern Mediterranean Sea (Gulf of Lions), we found that the total organic carbon (TOC) fluxes of the Rhône River accounted for ~1 % of the standing stock of seawater TOC. Considering that glucose is the most abundant carbohydrate in both particulate and dissolved organic matter pools (~33 %), its annual flux in the northwestern Mediterranean Sea was estimated to 3.8 × 108 moles glucose.

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