University of Oulu

Heikkinen, K., Saari, M., Heino, J., Ronkanen, A.-K., Kortelainen, P., Joensuu, S., Vilmi, A., Karjalainen, S.-M., Hellsten, S., Visuri, M., & Marttila, H. (2022). Iron in boreal river catchments: Biogeochemical, ecological and management implications. Science of The Total Environment, 805, 150256.

Iron in boreal river catchments : biogeochemical, ecological and management implications

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Author: Heikkinen, K.1; Saari, M.2; Heino, J.1;
Organizations: 1Finnish Environment Institute, Freshwater Centre, Paavo Havaksen Tie 3, P. O. Box 413, FI-90014 Oulu, Finland
2Water, Energy and Environmental Engineering Research Unit, P. O. Box 4300, 90014, University of Oulu, Finland
3Finnish Environment Institute, Latokartanonkaari 11, FI-00790, Helsinki, Finland
4Tapio Ltd., Maistraatinportti 4, FI-00240 Helsinki, Finland
Format: article
Version: published version
Access: open
Online Access: PDF Full Text (PDF, 0.8 MB)
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Language: English
Published: Elsevier, 2022
Publish Date: 2022-06-17


Iron (Fe) is an important element in aquatic ecosystems worldwide because it is intimately tied with multiple abiotic and biotic phenomena. Here, we give a survey of manifold influences of Fe, and the key factors affecting it in the boreal catchments and their waters. It includes the perspectives of biogeochemistry, hydrology, ecology, and river basin management. We emphasize views on the dynamics and impacts of different forms of Fe in riverine environments, including organic colloids and particles, as well as inorganic fractions. We also provide perspectives for land use management in boreal catchments and suggest guidelines for decision making and water management. Based on our survey, the main emphases of water protection and management programs should be (i) prevention of Fe mobilization from soil layers by avoiding unnecessary land-use activities and minimizing soil disturbance in high-risk areas; (ii) disconnecting Fe-rich ground water discharge from directly reaching watercourses; and (iii) decreasing transport of Fe to watercourses by applying efficient water pollution control approaches. These approaches may require specific methods that should be given attention depending on catchment conditions in different areas. Finally, we highlight issues requiring additional research on boreal catchments. A key issue is to increase our understanding of the role of Fe in the utilization of DOM in riverine food webs, which are typically highly heterotrophic. More knowledge is needed on the metabolic and behavioral resistance mechanisms that aquatic organisms, such as algae, invertebrates, and fish, have developed to counter the harmful impacts of Fe in rivers with naturally high Fe and DOM concentrations. It is also emphasized that to fulfil the needs presented above, as well as to develop effective methods for decreasing the harmful impacts of Fe in water management, the biogeochemical processes contributing to Fe transport from catchments via rivers to estuaries should be better understood.

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Series: Science of the total environment
ISSN: 0048-9697
ISSN-E: 1879-1026
ISSN-L: 0048-9697
Volume: 805
Article number: 150256
DOI: 10.1016/j.scitotenv.2021.150256
Type of Publication: A2 Review article in a scientific journal
Field of Science: 1172 Environmental sciences
218 Environmental engineering
Funding: The study was supported by NordForsk through the project BIOWATER, a Nordic Centre of Excellence under the Nordic Programme of Bioeconomy (NF Project Number 82263), by the project FRESHABIT LIFE IP (LIFE14/IPE/FI/023), by Maa- ja Vesitekniikan Tuki Ry, by K.H. Renlund foundation, by The European Regional Development Fund (ERDF), by the Water JPI program funded WaterPeat-project, and by Finnish Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry through the project Tools and means for managing peatland forests - how to diminish impacts on water and climate (TurVI).
Copyright information: © 2021 The Authors. Published by Elsevier B.V. This is an open access article under the CC BY license (