Coastal upwelling prevails in the coast of Hainan Island, the northern South China Sea (SCS) during summer. We studied the influences of the upwelling on the horizontal and vertical transport of terrigenous polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs). PAHs in dissolved and suspended particulate phase of water samples were determined in the upper (depth < 1 m) and water column (depth > 10 m). PAH levels decreased sharply from inshore to offshore to open sea. The results showed that terrestrial input was the main source of coastal PAHs. Perylene, an important indicator of land plant-derived PAH, showed the significant correlation with PAHs (p < 0.005). This implied that fluvial transport was the primary pathway of terrigenous PAHs into the coast of northern SCS. Variations of the concentrations, compositions and diagnostic ratios of PAHs, accompanied the partition equilibrium in the water column, could indicate the selective degradation of PAHs by the plankton affected by upwelling. Different from the “traditional” transport pathway of PAHs in the water column (surface enrichment-depth depletion distribution), the upwelling could provide the original driver to elevate the upward diffusion of sediment entrained contaminants towards the intermediate even the upper waters. It could also enhance the outward diffusion of terrigenous PAHs accompanied by the offshore transport of the upper waters. Therefore, the transport pathway of PAHs can be summarized by the coastal upwelling rising PAHs with their subsequent transport offshore and settling in the adjacent open sea.
Environmental Pollution – Elsevier
Published: Oct 1, 2017
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