Photochemical transformation of dissolved organic matter in lakes

Bertilsson, Stefan, Lars J. Tranvik

Limnol. Oceanogr., 45(4), 2000, 753-762 | DOI: 10.4319/lo.2000.45.4.0753

ABSTRACT: In a survey of photochemical transformation of dissolved organic matter (DOM) in lake water, we found photochemical production of dissolved inorganic carbon (DIC) and low molecular weight carboxylic acids (oxalic, malonic, formic, and acetic acid), upon simulated solar ultraviolet (UV) radiation exposure of filter-sterilized surface water from 38 investigated lakes. Given the large variability in water chemistry of the studied systems, we suggest that these photoproducts are universally produced in sunlight exposed lake water. The measured production of carboxylic acid carbon corresponded to 34.4% (median) of the produced DIC. The production of DIC and carboxylic acids during 8 h of mild UV irradiation corresponded to an average of 4.7% (SD 2.9) of the total dissolved organic carbon pool. Hence, photochemical degradation could be a major sink for DOM in the surface layer of lakes. All photoreaction rates were strongly correlated to the total radiation absorbed during UV exposure (r2 > 0.8), which depends mainly on amount of colored DOM in the water. The variability in DIC production after normalizing for absorbed radiation energy could partly be attributed to general water chemistry parameters (e.g., pH, iron concentration, conductivity).

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