Seasonal variations of organic carbon and nitrogen in the upper basins of Yangtze and Yellow Rivers

Xiang ying Li, Yong jian Ding, Tian ding Han, Jian zhong Xu, Shi chang Kang, Qing bai Wu, Mika Sillanpää, Zhong bo Yu, Cong rong Yu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Citations (Scopus)


The profound impacts exerted by climate warming on the Tibetan Plateau have been documented extensively, but the biogeochemical responses remain poorly understood. This study was aimed at seasonal variations of total organic carbon (TOC) and total organic nitrogen (TON) in stream water at two gauging sections (TTH, ZMD) in the upper basin of Yangtze River (UBYA) and at four gauging sections (HHY, JM, JG, TNH) in the upper basin of Yellow River (UBYE) in 2013. Results showed that concentrations of TON exhibit higher values in spring and winter and lower values in summer. TOC exhibits higher concentrations in spring or early summer and lower concentrations in autumn or winter. Seasonal variations of TOC and TON fluxes are dominated by water flux. In total, the UBYE and UBYA delivers 55,435 tons C of organic carbon and 9,872 tons N of organic nitrogen to downstream ecosystems in 2013. Although the combined flux of TOC from UBYA and UBYE is far lower than those from large rivers, their combined yields is higher than, or comparable with, those from some large rivers (e.g. Nile, Orange, Columbia), implying that organic carbon from the Tibetan Plateau may exert a potentially influence on regional and/or global carbon cycles in future warming climate.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1577-1590
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of Mountain Science
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - 1 Aug 2017
Externally publishedYes


  • Seasonal variation
  • Total organic carbon (TOC)
  • Total organic nitrogen (TON)
  • Yangtze River
  • Yellow River

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Global and Planetary Change
  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Geology
  • Earth-Surface Processes
  • Nature and Landscape Conservation


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