Photodegradation of river dissolved organic matter and trace metals in the largest European Arctic estuary

Sci Total Environ. 2018 May 1;622-623:1343-1352. doi: 10.1016/j.scitotenv.2017.12.030. Epub 2017 Dec 13.


Photo-induced degradation of dissolved organic matter (DOM) and organo-mineral colloids is one of the major factor responsible for transformation of DOM and dissolved metals in boreal and subarctic waters. In contrast to fairly good understanding of this process in inland waters of high latitude zone, the transformation of riverine DOM and associated trace element (TE) colloids in the Arctic estuaries remains virtually unknown. We incubated, under sunlight in outdoor pools, quartz reactors filled with mixtures of sterile filtered riverine and estuarine water. The water samples were collected in the estuarine zone of the largest European Arctic river, Severnaya Dvina. After 1month of exposure to sunlight, ≤5% change of dissolved organic carbon (DOC) concentration and specific ultraviolet (254nm) absorption occurred. This decrease was within the experimental uncertainty and it implies quite high resistance of river dissolved organic matter to photo-degradation in this estuary. Moreover, very low photodegradability of DOM in the freshwater point of the Severnaya Dvina River may require revisiting the current paradigm of the importance of DOC photolysis in large Arctic rivers. A novel finding was that the percentages of overall removal of Fe and some insoluble elements were quite similar across the full range of studied salinities, whereas the apparent rate of metal removal decreased with the increase of salinity. Overall, the salinity weakly impacted the removal of riverine DOC and metals in the estuarine water via photolysis and coagulation under sunlight. As a result, photoreactivity of DOM and dissolved metals in riverine end members corrected for estuarine dilution can be used to approximate the photolytic transformation of riverine material in the Arctic coastal zone.

Keywords: Coagulation; Colloids; Organic carbon; Photolysis; River water; Seawater.

MeSH terms

  • Estuaries
  • Humic Substances
  • Metals / analysis*
  • Models, Chemical*
  • Photolysis
  • Rivers
  • Water Pollutants, Chemical / analysis*


  • Humic Substances
  • Metals
  • Water Pollutants, Chemical