The Colorado River near Page, Arizona (Credit: Adrille, via Wikimedia Commons)
A USGS study of two western river basins found that climate and human activity impact carbon movement throughout the basins.
The study examined the Colorado and Missouri Rivers, each of which exhibits a different carbon transport pattern. Carbon levels increase in the Missouri River as it nears its confluence with the Mississippi, while the Colorado showed the opposite effect. Varying precipitation, evaporation and diversion for human usage are responsible for the differences between the systems.
Reservoirs were found to reduce the impact of seasonal precipitation and temperature changes on the carbon flow, as they effectively interrupt the connection between rivers and watersheds.
Image: The Colorado River near Page, Arizona (Credit: Adrille, via Wikimedia Commons)