This report is the first seasonal study of anthropogenic pollutant biodegradation rates in Antarctic coastal waters. The capacity of surface waters from Rothera Research Station, Adelaide Island, Antarctica, to biodegrade the anionic surfactant sodium dodecyl sulphate (SDS) was quantified in biodegradation tests from April 1988 to January 1999. Large temporal differences in the persistence of SIDS were observed. In mid-winter (July), the SDS-biodegradation half life was twice that measured in mid-summer (January), despite small temperature differences (up to 2.45 degreesC). Comparisons between water from a pristine site and a site receiving grey-waste water from the station showed that some acclimation to SDS was occurring in the contaminated water. This resulted in SDS half lives up to similar to80 h shorter in the polluted water compared with the pristine site in the summer months when a large population of SDS-degrading bacteria had developed. Biodegradation half lives in Antarctic coastal waters (160-460 h) were generally far higher than those observed in temperate waters
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