River outgassing has proven to be an integral part of the carbon cycle. In Southeast Asia, river outgassing quantities are uncertain due to lack of measured data. Here we investigate six rivers in Indonesia and Malaysia, during five expeditions. CO2 fluxes from Southeast Asian rivers amount to 66.9 ± 15.7 Tg C per year, of which Indonesia releases 53.9 ± 12.4 Tg C per year. Malaysian rivers emit 6.2 ± 1.6 Tg C per year. These moderate values show that Southeast Asia is not the river outgassing hotspot as would be expected from the carbon-enriched peat soils. This is due to the relatively short residence time of dissolved organic carbon (DOC) in the river, as the peatlands, being the primary source of DOC, are located near the coast. Limitation of bacterial production, due to low pH, oxygen depletion or the refractory nature of DOC, potentially also contributes to moderate CO2 fluxes as this decelerates decomposition.
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