Inventory of riverine dissolved organic carbon in the Bohai Rim

Cece Sun, Jun Liu*, Menglu Li, Jiaye Zang, Lu Wang, Wentao Wu, Aijun Zhang, Junjie Wang, Xiangbin Ran

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Riverine carbon (C) composition and export are closely related to changes in the coastal environment and climate. Excessive C inputs from rivers to seas and their subsequent decomposition could result in harmful algal blooms and ecosystem degradation in the coastal sea. In this study, we explored the C transportation and composition in the 24 major rivers of the Bohai Sea (BS) Rim based on the investigation of dissolved organic carbon (DOC), carbon stable isotopes (δ13CDOC) and chromophoric dissolved organic matter (CDOM). The results showed that the riverine DOC concentrations were high (10.6 ± 6.04 mg/L) in the BS Rim compared with the DOC levels in the main rivers in Eastern China (4.98 ± 2.45 mg/L). The δ13CDOC ranged from −28.29‰ to −25.32‰ in the rivers of the BS Rim, suggesting that the DOC mainly originated from riverine plankton, soil organic matter mainly induced by C3 plants, and sewage. The excitation-emission matrix fluorescence spectroscopy of the CDOM indicated that a soluble, microbial by product-like material accounted for the largest proportion (approximately 40%) of CDOM in these rivers and that CDOM mainly originated from autochthonous riverine sources with high protein-like components. The rivers in the BS Rim transported approximately 0.55 Tg C of DOC to the BS each year, with more than 70% of reactive C based on the CDOM composition. The DOC yields in terms of unit drainage area transported from the small rivers to the BS were higher compared to those of the larger rivers in the world, which indicated that the small rivers in the Bohai Rim could be an important source of the C in the BS. This study would enrich our understanding of environmental evolution in coastal areas with numerous small rivers.

Original languageEnglish
Article number118601
Pages (from-to)1-11
JournalEnvironmental Pollution
Publication statusPublished - 15 Jan 2022


  • Bohai Sea
  • Carbon stable isotope
  • Chromophoric dissolved organic matter (CDOM)
  • Dissolved organic carbon
  • Rivers in the Bohai Rim


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