Moving Bedforms Control CO2 Production and Distribution in Sandy River Sediments

H. Schulz, Y. Teitelbaum, J. Lewandowski, G. A. Singer, S. Arnon

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Streams and rivers play an important role in the global carbon cycle. The origins of CO2 in streams are often poorly constrained or neglected, which is especially true for CO2 originating from heterotrophic metabolism in streambeds. We hypothesized that sediment movement will have a direct effect on stream metabolism, and thus, the aim of this study was to quantify the effect of moving bedforms on the production of CO2 in sandy streambeds. We conducted flume experiments where we used planar optodes to measure the distributions of O2 and CO2 under various streambed celerities. We combined these measurements with an assessment of bed morphodynamics and modeling to calculate O2 consumption and CO2 production rates. Our results indicate that sediment transport can strongly influence streambed metabolism and CO2 production. We found that bedform celerity controls the shape of the hyporheic zone and exchange flux, and is directly linked to the spatial and temporal distributions of O2 and CO2. It was also found that the most pronounced change in CO2 production occurred when the bed changed from stationary conditions to a slowly moving bed. A more gradual increase in O2 consumption and CO2 production rates was observed with further increase in celerity. Our study also points out that bedform movement causes hydraulic isolation between the moving and the non-moving fraction of the streambed that can lead to a transient storage of CO2 in deeper sediments, which may be released in bursts during bed scour.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere2022JG007156
JournalJournal of Geophysical Research: Biogeosciences
Issue number4
StatePublished - 1 Apr 2023

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Forestry
  • Aquatic Science
  • Ecology
  • Water Science and Technology
  • Soil Science
  • Atmospheric Science
  • Paleontology


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