Surface water concentrations of dissolved organic carbon ([DOC]) are changing throughout the northern hemisphere due to changes in climate, land use and acid deposition. However, the relative importance of these drivers is unclear. Here, we use the Integrated Catchments model for Carbon (INCA-C) to simulate long-term (1996–2008) streamwater [DOC] at the four Swedish integrated monitoring (IM) sites. These are unmanaged headwater catchments with old-growth forests and no major changes in land use. Daily, seasonal and long-term variations in streamwater [DOC] driven by runoff, seasonal temperature and atmospheric sulfate (SO42-) deposition were observed at all sites. Using INCA-C, it was possible to reproduce observed patterns of variability in streamwater [DOC] at the four IM sites. Runoff was found to be the main short-term control on [DOC]. Seasonal patterns in [DOC] were controlled primarily by soil temperature. Measured SO42- deposition explained some of the long-term [DOC] variability at all sites.
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