Reactivity of dissolved organic matter in response to acid deposition

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Fluvial export of organic matter from the terrestrial catchment to the aquatic system is a large and increasing carbon flux. The successful reduction in sulfuric acid deposition since the 1980s has been shown to enhance the mobility of organic matter in the soil, with more terrestrially derived dissolved organic matter (DOM) reaching aquatic systems. Changes in soil acidity also affect the quality of the DOM. In this study we explore the consequences this may have on the reactivity and turnover of the terrestrially derived DOM as it reaches the aquatic system. DOM of different quality (estimated by absorbance, fluorescence and size exclusion chromatography) was produced through extraction of boreal forest O-horizon soils from podzol at two sulfuric acid concentrations corresponding to natural throughfall in spruce forest in Southern Sweden around 1980 and today. Extraction was done using two different methods, i.e. field leaching and laboratory extraction. The DOM extracts were used to assess if differences in acidity generate DOM of different reactivity. Three reactivity experiments were performed: photodegradation by UV exposure, biodegradation by bacteria, and biodegradation after UV exposure. Reactivity was assessed by measuring loss of dissolved organic carbon and absorbance, change in fluorescence and molecular weight, and bacterial production. DOM extracted at lower sulfuric acid concentration was more susceptible to photooxidation, and less susceptible to bacterial degradation, than DOM extracted at a higher sulfuric acid concentration. Thus the relative importance of these two turnover processes may be altered with changes in acid deposition.


External organisations
  • Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences
  • Karlstad University
Research areas and keywords

Subject classification (UKÄ) – MANDATORY

  • Oceanography, Hydrology, Water Resources


  • Biodegradation, Carbon cycling, Decreasing acidification, DOM quality, Photooxidation
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)463-475
Number of pages13
JournalAquatic Sciences
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2016 Jul 1
Publication categoryResearch