Carbon and nutrient sequestration in small impoundments: a regional study with global implications

John R. Jones, Kimberly Pope-Cole, Daniel V. Obrecht, J. D. Harlan, Lesley B. Knoll, John A. Downing

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The rate of sequestration of carbon, nitrogen, and phosphorus by lentic ecosystems informs both the global carbon budget and the remediation of eutrophication. Here we estimate carbon, nitrogen, and phosphorus burial in sediments of 34 lakes in Missouri, USA, and compare them to those found in other agricultural areas as well as to global estimates. Mean sediment accumulation rates varied by orders of magnitude among study regions, with the largest values (average 6 cm yr−1) in impounded systems surrounded by intensive agriculture. Rates increased with the drainage ratio and decreased with the abundance of other surface water in the catchment (e.g., farm ponds). Average organic carbon burial differed by an order of magnitude among study regions (average 150–2100 g m−2 yr−1) with differences related to the drainage ratio and eutrophication. Organic carbon burial was strongly correlated with burial rates of nitrogen and phosphorus. Comparisons with a diversity of global data show that extremely high rates of biogeochemical burial in many Midwestern USA impoundments are likely due to the details of agricultural cropping systems, landscape configuration, and soil characteristics.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)374-387
Number of pages14
JournalInland Waters
Issue number3
StatePublished - 2023
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2024 International Society of Limnology (SIL).


  • carbon
  • lakes
  • nitrogen
  • phosphorus
  • sediment
  • sequestration


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