Biogeochemically diverse organic matter in Alpine glaciers and its downstream fate

  • Singer G
  • Fasching C
  • Wilhelm L
 et al. 
  • 184


    Mendeley users who have this article in their library.
  • 104


    Citations of this article.


Besides their role in the hydrological cycle, glaciers could play an important role in the carbon cycle. They store and transform organic carbon, which on release could support downstream microbial life. Yet the origin and composition of glacial organic carbon, and its implications for the carbon cycle, remain unclear. Here, we examine the molecular composition, radiocarbon age and bioavailability of dissolved organic matter (DOM) in 26 glaciers in the European Alps, using ultrahigh- resolution mass spectrometry, fluorescence spectroscopy and incubation experiments. We also measure carbon dioxide partial pressures in glacier-fed streams. We show that the glacier organic matter is highly diverse, and that a significant fraction of this material is bioavailable. Phenolic compounds derived from vascular plants or soil dominate, together with peptides and lipids, potentially derived from in situ microbial communities. Combustion products, in contrast, seem to contribute only marginally to the DOM sampled. We further showthat organic matter bioavailability is positively correlated with in-stream carbon dioxide concentrations. We suggest that glacier-derived DOM contributes to downstream carbon cycling in glacier-fed streams. Our findings highlight the relevance of mountain glaciers for carbon cycling—a role that may change as glaciers recede. Despite

Get free article suggestions today

Mendeley saves you time finding and organizing research

Sign up here
Already have an account ?Sign in

Find this document

Get full text


  • Gabriel A. Singer

  • Christina Fasching

  • Linda Wilhelm

  • Jutta Niggemann

  • Peter Steier

  • Thorsten Dittmar

Cite this document

Choose a citation style from the tabs below

Save time finding and organizing research with Mendeley

Sign up for free