Cold storage as a method for the long-term preservation of tropical dissolved organic carbon (DOC)

S. Cook, M. Peacock, C.D. Evans, S.E. Page, M. Whelan, Vincent Gauci, K.L. Khoon

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Fluvial fluxes of dissolved organic carbon (DOC) may represent an important loss for terrestrial carbon stores in the tropics. However, there is currently limited guidance on the preservation of tropical water samples for DOC analysis. Commonly employed preservation techniques such as freezing or acidification can limit degradation but may also alter sample properties, complicating DOC analysis. We examined the effects of cold storage at 4 °C on DOC concentration and quality in water samples collected from a tropical peat catchment. Samples were stored in the dark at 4 °C for periods of 6–12 weeks. Freeze/thaw experiments were also made. Mean DOC concentrations in samples stored for six weeks at 4 °C were 6.1 % greater than in samples stored at ambient room temperature (33 °C) over the same period. Changes in DOC concentrations, in two sample sets, during cold storage were 2.25 ± 2.9 mg L-1 (8 %) to 2.69 ± 1.4 mg L-1 (11 %) over a 12-week period. Freeze/thaw resulted in alterations in the optical properties of samples, and this in turn altered the calculated DOC concentrations by an average of 10.9 %. We conclude that cold storage at 4 °C is an acceptable preservation method for tropical DOC water samples, for moderate time periods, and is preferable to freezing or storage at ambient temperatures.
Original languageEnglish
Article number25
Number of pages8
JournalMires and Peat
Publication statusPublished - 13 Nov 2016


  • freezing
  • oil palm estate
  • refrigeration
  • sample storage
  • tropical peat
  • water samples


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