National Research Program

Carbon Fluxes in Hydrologic and Geologic Processes

Carbon fluxes are an important aspect of many hydrologic and geologic processes. For example, on a global scale, rising atmospheric CO2 concentrations and the increasing use of fossil fuels have led to concern for the future effects of atmospheric CO2 on global climate. Anticipating the effects of atmospheric CO2 requires an understanding of the role of natural hydrologic and geologic processes in the global carbon budget. On a more local scale, ground water and surface water contamination problems are often associated with locally significant changes in the transport and sedimentation of carbon. This project evaluates carbon fluxes by studying the hydrologic and geologic processes responsible for them. These studies emphasize the need to understand both human impacts and the evidence for natural changes in local to global carbon fluxes before man's influence. Objectives of this project are: to evaluate local to global carbon fluxes associated with hydrologic and geologic processes; to determine the geochemical mass balance for carbon in selected hydrologic/geologic systems; to determine the processes most important in controlling carbon fluxes; to investigate the possibility of past variations in the world's (natural) CO2 balance, and to apply this information to the prediction of future global CO2 fluxes; and to understand the role of fluxes of carbon compounds in selected local ground water and/or surface water contamination problems.


Sundquist, E.T., Ackerman, K.V., Stallard, R.F., Bliss, N.B., 2011, Historical influence of soil and water management on sediment and carbon budgets in the United States: Applied Geochemistry, v. 26, supplement 1 [Ninth International Symposium on the Geochemistry of the Earth's Surface (GES-9)], p. s259. (on-line abstract of article)  

Ackerman, K.V., Mixon, D.M., Sundquist, E.T., Stallard, R.F., Schwarz, G.E., and Stewart, D.W., 2009, RESIS-II - An updated version of the original Reservoir Sedimentation Survey Information System (RESIS) database: U.S. Geological Survey Data Series 434 - available only online. (on-line abstract and to download data base or on-line report in pdf format , 308 KB)

McPherson, B.J., and Sundquist, E.T., eds., 2009, Carbon Sequestration and Its Role in the Global Carbon Cycle: Geophysical Monograph Series, American Geophysical Union, v. 183, 350 p. (on-line preface of book)

Sundquist, E.T., Ackerman, K.V., Bliss, N.B., Kellndorfer, J.M., Reeves, M.C., and Rollins, M.G., 2009, Rapid assessment of U.S. forest and soil organic carbon storage and forest biomass carbon sequestration capacity: U.S. Geological Survey Open-File Report 2009–1283, 15 p. (on-line abstract or on-line publication in pdf format, 2.1 MB - available online only)

Sundquist, E.T., Ackerman, K.V., Parker, L., and Huntzinger, D.N., 2009, An introduction to global carbon cycle management, , in McPherson, B.J., and Sundquist, E.T., eds., Carbon Sequestration and Its Role in the Global Carbon Cycle: Geophysical Monograph Series, American Geophysical Union, v. 183, p. 1-23.

Sundquist, E.T., and Keeling, R.F., 2009, The Mauna Loa carbon dioxide eecord: Lessons for long-term Earth Observations, in McPherson, B.J., and Sundquist, E.T., eds., Carbon Sequestration and Its Role in the Global Carbon Cycle: Geophysical Monograph Series, American Geophysical Union, v. 183, p. 27-35.

Ackerman, K.V. and Sundquist, E.T., 2008, Comparison of two U.S. power-plant carbon dioxide emissions data sets: Environmental Science and Technology, v. 42, no. 15, p. 5688-5693. (on-line abstract or on-line article in pdf format, 148 KB, published by American Chemical Society; not subject to U.S. copyright)

Sundquist, E.T., Burruss, R.C., Faulkner, S.P., Gleason, R.A., Harden, J.W., Kharaka, Y.K., Tieszen, L.L., and Waldrop, M.P., 2008, Carbon Sequestration to Mitigate Climate Change: U.S. Geological Survey, Fact Sheet 2008–3097, 4p. (on-line abstract or on-line fact sheet in pdf format, 2.3 MB)

Gurney, K., Ansley, W., Mendoza, D., Petron, G., Frost, G., Gregg, J., Fischer, M., Pataki, D., Ackerman, K., Houweling, S., Corbin, K., Andres, R., Blasing, T., 2007, Research needs for finely resolved fossil carbon emissions: EOS (Forum), v. 88, no. 49, p. 542-543.

Borken, W., Davidson, E.A., Savage, K., Sundquist, E.T., and Steudler, P., 2006, Effect of summer throughfall exclusion, summer drought, and winter snow cover on methane fluxes in a temperate forest soil: Soil Biology and Biochemistry, v. 38, no. 6, p. 1388-1395. (on-line abstract of journal article)

Sundquist, E.T. and Visser, K, 2004, The geological history of the carbon cycle, in Schlesinger, W.H., ed., Biogeochemistry, Treatise on Geochemistry, v. 8, : Elsevier, Chapt. 9. (on-line abstract )

Liu, S., Bliss, N.,Sundquist, E., and Huntington, T.G., 2003, Modeling carbon dynamics in vegetation and soil under the impact of soil erosion and deposition: Global Biogeochemical Cycles, v. 17, no. 2, p. 43-1 to 43-24. (on-line abstract)

Eric T. Sundquist
U.S. Geological Survey, Woods Hole, MA
Phone: 508-457-2397

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