Photo-reactivity of dissolved organic carbon in the freshwater continuum

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


The patterns in dissolved organic carbon (DOC) photo-mineralization along the freshwater continuum from land to sea are poorly known. Specifically, it has not been resolved how the photo-degradation of DOC into CO2 (PD) depends on the combination of intrinsic properties of DOC and extrinsic variables that affect the photo-reactions. We measured PD per unit of absorbed ultraviolet light energy (PD-Ew) in headwater streams, lakes, intermediate rivers and river mouths in Sweden. Surprisingly, no trend of decreasing PD-Ew was found with decreases in colored DOC. However, there was a relationship between PD-Ew and pH, best described by a quadratic (U-shaped) curve, indicating environmental control of photo-reactivity. Interestingly, the highest values for both of these variables were recorded for river mouths. Moreover, PD-Ew increased with proxy variables for the amount of autochthonous DOC in the water. Thus, changes in pH and autochthonous DOC input along the continuum may sustain high DOC photo-mineralization throughout continental aquatic networks.


  • Balathandayuthabani Panneer Selvam
  • Jean-François Lapierre
  • Ana Soares
  • David Bastviken
  • Jan Karlsson
  • Martin Berggren
External organisations
  • University of Montreal, Canada
  • Linköping University
  • Umeå University
Research areas and keywords

Subject classification (UKÄ) – MANDATORY

  • Oceanography, Hydrology, Water Resources


  • Photo-reactivity, Dissolved organic carbon, Freshwater systems, Colored dissolved organic matter, pH
Original languageEnglish
Article number57
JournalAquatic Sciences
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2019 Oct
Publication categoryResearch

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Related projects

Martin Berggren, Balathandayuthabani Panneer Selvam, Lena Ström & Torben Christensen


Project: Dissertation

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