Photodemethylation of methylmercury in Eastern Canadian Arctic thaw pond and lake ecosystems
Article [Accepted Manuscript]
Is part ofEnvironmental science and technology ; vol. 50, no. 7, pp. 3511-3520.
Permafrost thaw ponds of the warming Eastern Canadian Arctic are major landscape constituents and often display high levels of methylmercury (MeHg). We examined photodegradation potentials in high-dissolved organic matter (DOC) thaw ponds on Bylot Island (BYL) and a low-DOC oligotrophic lake on Cornwallis Island (Char Lake). In BYL, the ambient MeHg photodemethylation (PD) rate over 48 h of solar exposure was 6.1 × 10–3 m2 E–1, and the rate in MeHg amended samples was 9.3 × 10–3 m2 E–1. In contrast, in low-DOC Char Lake, PD was only observed in the first 12 h, which suggests that PD may not be an important loss process in polar desert lakes. Thioglycolic acid addition slowed PD, while glutathione and chlorides did not impact northern PD rates. During an ecosystem-wide experiment conducted in a covered BYL pond, there was neither net MeHg increase in the dark nor loss attributable to PD following re-exposure to sunlight. We propose that high-DOC Arctic thaw ponds are more prone to MeHg PD than nearby oligotrophic lakes, likely through photoproduction of reactive species rather than via thiol complexation. However, at the ecosystem level, these ponds, which are widespread through the Arctic, remain likely sources of MeHg for neighboring systems.