Skip to main content

A Survey of the 14C Content of Dissolved Inorganic Carbon in Chinese Lakes

  • Taibei Liu (a1) (a2), Weijian Zhou (a1) (a3), Peng Cheng (a1) (a3) and G S Burr (a1) (a3)

We present radiocarbon (14C) measurements of dissolved inorganic carbon (DIC) from surface waters of 11 lakes, widely distributed in China. Surface lake water DIC F14C values show distinct differences, and we relate these to the physical exchange character (“open” or “closed”) of each lake. Open lakes studied here generally have lower DIC F14C values than closed lakes. We present a simple model of a lake water cycle to calculate an average residence time for each lake. Comparisons between lake DIC F14C and average residence time shows that the DIC F14C increases with the average residence time and reflects a steady-state.

Corresponding author
*Corresponding author. Email:
Hide All
Ascough, PL, Church, MJ, Cook, GT, Dunbar, E, Gestsdóttir, H, McGovern, TH, Dugmore, AJ, Friðriksson, A, Edwards, KJ. 2012. Radiocarbon reservoir effects in human bone collagen from northern Iceland. Journal of Archaeological Science 39:22612271.
Bondevik, S, Mangerud, J, Birks, HH, Gulliksen, S, Reimer, P. 2006. Ages during the Allerød and Younger Dryas. Science 312:15141517.
Cage, AG, Heinemeier, J, Austin, WEN. 2006. Marine radiocarbon reservoir ages in Scottish coastal and fjordic waters. Radiocarbon 48(1):3143.
Chen, CH, Wang, JZ, Zhu, C, Zhao, LY, Jiang, JH, Yang, JY, Yang, S. 2012. Relationship between the sediment pigment records of Lake Lugu and the regional climate change over the last 200 a. Journal of Lake Sciences 24(5):780788. In Chinese.
Deevey, ES, Gross, MS, Hutchinson, GE, Kraybill, HL. 1954. The natural C contents of materials from hard-water lakes. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 40:285288.
Deuser, WG, Degen, ET. 1967. Carbon isotope fractionation in system CO2 (Gas)-CO2 (aqueous)-HCO3 - (aqueous). Nature 215:1033.
Donahue, DJ, Linick, TW, Jull, AJ. 1990. Isotope-ratio and background corrections for accelerator mass spectrometry radiocarbon measurements. Radiocarbon 32(2):135142.
Dong, SW. 2008. Environmental Geochemical Characteristics of Carbon, Nitrogen and Phosphorus in Dalinuoer. Hohhot: Inner Mongolia University Press. p 67. In Chinese.
Du, BH. 1998. Water quality change trend analysis for Xihu. Yunnan Environmental Science 17(3):2931. In Chinese.
Fu, H, Yuan, GX, Cao, T, Zhong, JY, Zhang, XL, Guo, LG, Zhang, M, Ni, LY, Wang, SR. 2013. Succession of submerged macrophyte communities in relation to environmental change in Lake Erhai over the past 50 years. Journal of Lake Sciences 25(6):854861. In Chinese.
Godwin, H. 1951. Comments on radiocarbon dating for samples from the British Isles. American Journal of Science 249(4):301307.
Hakansson, S. 1979. Radiocarbon activity in submerged plants from various south Swedish lakes. USA: University of California Press. p 433443.
Hatté, C, Jull, AJT. 2007. Radiocarbon dating: plant macrofossils. In: Elias SA, editor. Encyclopedia of Quaternary Science. Oxford: Elsevier. p 29582965.
Hendy, CH, Hall, BL. 2006. The radiocarbon reservoir effect in proglacial lakes: examples from Antarctica. Earth and Planetary Science Letters 241:413421.
Hu, YW, Ji, J, Pan, HX. 1992. A preliminary study of water quality and salinization in ChengHai Lake. Journal of Lake Science 4(2):6066. In Chinese.
Jull, AJT, Burr, GS, Zhou, WJ, Cheng, P, Song, SH, Leonard, AG, Cheng, L, An, ZS. 2014. 14C measurements of dissolved inorganic and organic carbon in Qinghai lake and inflowing rivers (Ne Tibet, Qinghai Plateau), China. Radiocarbon 56(3):11151127.
Keaveney, EM, Reimer, PJ. 2012. Understanding the variability in freshwater radiocarbon reservoir offsets: a cautionary tale. Journal of Archaeological Science 39:13061316.
Keaveney, EM, Reimer, PJ, Foy, RH. 2015. Young, old and weathered carbon: using radiocarbon and stable isotopes to identify carbon sources in an alkaline, humic lake. Radiocarbon 57(3):407–403.
Kritzberg, ES, Cole, JJ, Pace, MM, Graneli, W. 2006. Bacterial growth on allochthonous carbon in humicand nutrient-enriched lakes: results from whole-lake 13C addition experiments. Ecosystems 9:489499.
Kritzberg, ES, Graneli, W, Bjork, J, Bronmark, C, Hallgren, P, Nicolle, A, Persson, A, Hansson, LA. 2014. Warming and browning of lakes: consequences for pelagic carbon metabolism and sediment delivery. Freshwater Biology 59:325336.
Lei, YB, Yao, TD, Zhang, EL, Sheng, YW, Wang, WC, Li, JL, Wang, X. 2011. Characteristics of δ13C DIC value in lakes on Qiangtang Plateau and its affected factors. Journal of Lake Science 23(5):673680.
Levin, I, Kromer, B, Hammer, S. 2013. Atmospheric Δ14CO2 trend in Western European background air from 2000 to 2012. Tellus B 65:20092.
Li, SJ, Qu, RK, Zhu, ZY, Li, BY. 1998. A carbonate content record of Late Quaternary cIimate and environment changes from laeustrine core TS 95 in Tianshuihai Basin, northwestern Qinghai-Xizang (Tibet) Plateau. Journal of Lake Science 10(2):5865. In Chinese.
Li, XZ, Liu, WG, Xu, LM. 2012. Carbon isotopes in surface-sediment carbonates of modern Lake Qinghai (Qinghai–Tibet Plateau): implications for lake evolution in arid areas. Chemical Geology. 8896.
Lockot, G, Ramisch, A, Wünnemann, B, Hartmann, K, Haberzettl, T, Chen, H, Diekmann, B. 2015. A process- and provenance-based attempt to unravel inconsistent radiocarbon chronologies in lake sediments: an example from Lake Heihai, North Tibetan Plateau (China). Radiocarbon 57(5):10031019.
Long, H, Lai, ZP, Wang, NA, Zhang, JR. 2011. A combined luminescence and radiocarbon dating study of Holocene lacustrine sediments from arid northern China. Quaternary Geochronology 6:19.
Mischke, S, Weynell, M, Zhang, CJ, Wiechert, U. 2013. Spatial variability of 14C reservoir effects in Tibetan Plateau lakes. Quaternary International 313–314:147155.
Mook, WG, Bommerson, JC, Staverman, WH. 1974. Carbon isotope fractionation between dissolved bicarbonate and gaseous carbon dioxide. Earth and Planetary Science Letters 22(2):169176.
Myrttinen, A, Becker, V, Barth, JAC. 2012. A review of methods used for equilibrium isotope fractionation investigations between dissolved inorganic carbon and CO2 . Earth-Science Reviews 115:192199.
Niu, ZC, Zhou, WJ, Wu, SG, Cheng, P, Lu, XF, Xiong, XH, Du, H, Fu, YC, Wang, GH. 2016. Atmospheric fossil fuel CO2 traced by Δ14C in Beijing and Xiamen, China: temporal variations, inland/coastal differences and influencing factors. Environmental Science & Technology 50:54745480.
Olsson, IU. 2009. Radiocarbon dating history: early days, questions, and problems met. Radiocarbon 51(1):143.
Schaffner, WR., Oglesby, RT. 1978. Limnology of eight finger Lakes. In: Bloomfield JA, editor. Lakes of New York State. Volume 1: Ecology of the Finger Lakes. New York: Academic Press. p 313470.
Sheng, EG, YuKK, Xu H, Lan, JH, Liu, B, Che, Shuai. 2015. Late Holocene Indian summer monsoon precipitation history at LakeLugu, northwestern Yunnan Province, southwestern China. Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology 438:2433.
Stiller, M, Kaufman, A, Carmi, I, Mintz, G. 2001. Calibration of lacustrine sediment ages using the relationship between 14C levels in lake waters and in the atmosphere: the case of Lake Kinnere. Radiocarbon 43(2B):821830.
Wang, W, Feng, ZD, Ran, M, Zhang, CJ. 2013a. Holocene climate and vegetation changes inferred from pollen records of Lake Aibi, northern Xinjiang, China: a potential contribution to understanding of Holocene climate pattern in East-central Asia. Quaternary International 311:5462.
Wang, J, Jin, ZD, Zhang, F. 2013b. Effect of organic-matter degradation on dissolved inorganic stable isotopic compositions (δ13CDIC) and its implications in Lake Qinghai: a time series sediment trap study. Journal of Earth Environment 4(3):13231327. In Chinese.
Wang, JZ, Wu, JL, Zeng, HA, Ma, L. 2015. Changes of water resources of the main lakes in inner Mongolia. Arid Zone Research 32(1):714. In Chinese.
Wu, YH, Li, SJ, Lucke, A, Wunnemann, B, Zhou, LP, Reimer, P, Wang, SM. 2010. Lacustrine radiocarbon reservoir ages in Co Ngoin and Zigeˆ Tangco, central Tibetan Plateau. Quaternary International 212:2125.
Wu, YH, Wang, SM, Zhou, LP. 2011. Possible factors causing older radiocarbon age for bulk organic matter in sediment from Daihai Lake, North China. Radiocarbon 53(2):359366.
Xu, H, Yeager, KM, Lan, JH, Liu, B, Sheng, EG, Zhou, XY. 2015a. Abrupt Holocene Indian summer monsoon failures: a primary response to solar activity. The Holocene. 19.
Xu, H, Zhou, XY, Lan, JH, Liu, B, Sheng, EG, Yu, K, Cheng, P, Wu, F, Hong, B, Yeager, KM, Xu, S. 2015b. Late Holocene Indian summer monsoon variations recorded at Lake Erhai, Southwestern China. Quaternary Research 83:307314.
Yu, SY, Shen, J, Colman, SM. 2007. Modeling the radiocarbon reservoir effect in lacustrine systems. Radiocarbon 49(3):12411254.
Yu, SY, Cheng, P, Hou, ZF. 2014. A caveat on radiocarbon dating of organic-poor bulk lacustrine sediments in arid China. Radiocarbon 56(1):127141.
Zhang, HL, Li, SJ, Fen, QL, Zhang, ST. 2008. Environmental evolution recorded in biomakers from Lacustrine deposits of the Xingyun Lake. Quaternary Science 28(4):747753. In Chinese.
Zhang, B, Wu, YH, Zhu, LP, Wang, JB, Li, JS, Chen, DM. 2011. Estimation and trend detection of water storage at Nam Co Lake, central Tibetan Plateau. Journal of Hydrology 405:161170.
Zhang, JF, Liu, CL, Wu, XH, Liu, KX, Zhou, LP. 2012. Optically stimulated luminescence and radiocarbon dating of sediments from LopNur (Lop Nor), China. Quaternary Geochronology 10:150155.
Zhou, WJ, Zhao, XL, Lu, XF, Lin, L, Wu, ZK, Peng, C, Zhao, WN, Huang, CH. 2006. The 3MV multi-element AMS in Xi’an, China: unique features and preliminary tests. Radiocarbon 48:285293.
Zhou, WJ, Cheng, P, Jull, AJT, Lu, XF, A, ZS, Wang, H, Zhu, YZ, Wu, ZK. 2014. 14C Chronostratigraphy for Qinghai Lake in China. Radiocarbon 56(1):143155.
Zhou, AF, He, YX, Wu, D, Zhang, XN, Zhang, C, Liu, ZH, Yu, JQ. 2015. Changes in the radiocarbon reservoir age in Lake Xingyun, Southwestern China during the Holocene. PLOS ONE 10(3).
Recommend this journal

Email your librarian or administrator to recommend adding this journal to your organisation's collection.

  • ISSN: 0033-8222
  • EISSN: 1945-5755
  • URL: /core/journals/radiocarbon
Please enter your name
Please enter a valid email address
Who would you like to send this to? *



Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 3
Total number of PDF views: 20 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 100 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between 16th November 2017 - 20th April 2018. This data will be updated every 24 hours.