Tracing inputs of terrestrial high molecular weight dissolved organic matter within the Baltic Sea ecosystem
To test the hypothesis whether high molecular weight dissolved organic matter (HMW-DOM) in a high latitude marginal sea is dominated by terrestrial derived matter, 10 stations were sampled along the salinity gradient of the central and northern Baltic Sea and were analyzed for concentrations of dissolved organic carbon as well as δ 13C values of HMW-DOM. Different end-member-mixing models were applied to quantify the influence of terrestrial DOM and to test for conservative versus non-conservative behavior of the terrestrial DOM in the different Baltic Sea basins. The share of terrestrial DOM to the total HMW-DOM was calculated for each station, ranging from 43 to 83%. This shows the high influence of terrestrial DOM inputs for the Baltic Sea ecosystem. The data also suggest that terrestrial DOM reaching the open Baltic Sea is not subject to substantial removal anymore. However compared to riverine DOM concentrations, our results indicate that substantial amounts of HMW-DOM (> 50%) seem to be removed near the coastline during estuarine mixing. A budget approach yielded residence times for terrestrial DOM of 2.8, 3.0, and 4.5 yr for the Bothnian Bay, the Bothnian Sea and the Baltic Proper.