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  1. Abstract

    Dissolved organic carbon (DOC) is a key component of aquatic ecosystems with complex effects on ecosystem function. While long‐term increases in DOC termed “brownification” have received considerable attention, directional trends typically account for a minority of variance. DOC concentrations also fluctuate on seasonal to multiannual timescales, but the causes of such variations are less understood. We used a wavelet‐based approach to study timescale‐specific, spatially synchronous fluctuations in DOC across 49 lakes in the Adirondacks, New York, USA. DOC varies synchronously among lakes at within‐season, annual, and interannual timescales, but relationships with external drivers and internal processes indicated by lake chemistry differed across timescales. External drivers explained 78% of spatial DOC synchrony at the annual time scale. Beyond positive trends related to regional recovery from acidification, variability in DOC is a consequence of fluctuations at several timescales that are common among Adirondack lakes in precipitation, solar radiation, and internal chemical concentrations.

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