Publication Date

Spring 2016

Advisor(s) - Committee Chair

Dr. Chris Groves (Director), Dr. Michael May, Dr. Fred Siewers, and Dr. Jun Yan


With rising atmospheric CO2 concentrations, a detailed understanding of processes that impact atmospheric CO2 fluxes is required. While a sink of atmospheric carbon from the continents to the ocean from carbonate mineral weathering is, to some degree, offset by carbonate mineral precipitation in the oceans, efforts are underway to make direct measurements of these fluxes. Measurement of the continental sink has two parts: 1) measurement of the dissolved inorganic carbon (DIC) flux leaving a river basin, and 2) partitioning the inorganic carbon flux between the amount removed from the atmosphere and the portion from the bedrock. This study attempted to improve methods to measure the DIC flux using existing data to estimate the DIC flux from carbonate weathering within the limestone karst region of south central Kentucky. The DIC flux from the Barren River drainage basin upstream from Bowling Green in southern Kentucky and northern Tennessee, and the upper Green River drainage basin, upstream from Greensburg, Kentucky, was measured, each for a year, using U.S.G.S. discharge data and water-chemistry data from municipal water plants. A value of the (DIC) flux, normalized by time and area of carbonate rock, of 4.29 g km-3 day-1 was obtained for the Barren River, and 4.95 kg km-3 for the Green. These compared favorably with data obtained by Osterhoudt (2014) from two nested basins in the upper Green River with values of 5.66 kg km-3 day-1 and 5.82 kg km-3 day-1 upstream from Greensburg and Munfordville, respectively. Additional normalization of the values obtained in this study

by average precipitation minus evapotranspiration over the area of carbonate rock, or water available for carbonate dissolution, resulted in values of 5.61x107 g C (km3 H20)- 1 day-1 (grams of carbon per cubic kilometer of water, per day) for the Barren, and 7.43x107g C (km3 H20)-1 day-1 for the Green River. Furthermore, a statistical relationship between the total DIC flux and time-volume of water available for dissolution has been observed, yielding an r2 value of 0.9478. This relationship indicates that the primary variables affecting DIC flux for these drainage basins are time and the volume of water available for dissolution.


Climate | Environmental Indicators and Impact Assessment | Water Resource Management