Parsimonious Model for Simulating Total Mercury and Methylmercury in Boreal Streams Based on Riparian Flow Paths and Seasonality

Karin Eklöf, Andrea Kraus, Martyn Futter, Jakob Schelker, Markus Meili, Elizabeth W. Boyer, Kevin Bishop

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

18 Scopus citations


The complexity of mercury (Hg) biogeochemistry has made it difficult to model surface water concentrations of both total Hg (THg) and especially methylmercury (MeHg), the species of Hg having the highest potential for bioaccumulation. To simulate THg and MeHg variation in low-order streams, we have adapted a conceptual modeling framework where a continuum of lateral flows through riparian soils determines streamflow concentrations. The model was applied to seven forest catchments located in two boreal regions in Sweden spanning a range of climatic, soil, and forest management conditions. Discharge, and simulated riparian soil water concentrations profiles, represented by two calibrated parameters, were able to explain much of the variability of THg and MeHg concentrations in the streams issuing from the catchments (Nash Sutcliffe (NS) up to 0.54 for THg and 0.58 for MeHg). Model performance for all catchments was improved (NS up to 0.76 for THg and 0.85 for MeHg) by adding two to four parameters to represent seasonality in riparian soil water THg and MeHg concentrations profiles. These results are consistent with the hypothesis that riparian flow-pathways and seasonality in riparian soil concentrations are the major controls on temporal variation of THg and MeHg concentrations in low-order streams. (Graph Presented).

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)7851-7859
Number of pages9
JournalEnvironmental Science and Technology
Issue number13
StatePublished - Jul 7 2015

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Chemistry
  • Environmental Chemistry


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