Marine biodegradation of crude oil in temperate and Arctic water samples

Mette Kristensen, Anders R. Johnsen, Jan H. Christensen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

33 Citations (Scopus)


Despite increased interest in marine oil exploration in the Arctic, little is known about the fate of Arctic offshore oil pollution. Therefore, in the present study, we examine the oil degradation potential for an Arctic site (Disko Bay, Greenland) and discuss this in relation to a temperate site (North Sea, Denmark). Biodegradation was assessed following exposure to Oseberg Blend crude oil (100mgL-1) in microcosms. Changes in oil hydrocarbon fingerprints of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), alkyl-substituted PAHs, dibenzothiophenes, n-alkanes and alkyltoluenes were measured by gas chromatography-mass spectrometry (GC-MS). In the Disko Bay sample, the degradation order was nalkanes>alkyltoluenes (para->meta->ortho-isomers)>PAHs and dibenzothiophenes, whereas, the degradation order in the North Sea samples was PAHs and dibenzothiophenes>alkyltoluenes>n-alkanes. These differences in degradation patterns significantly affect the environmental risk of oil spills and emphasise the need to consider the specific environmental conditions when conducting risk assessments of Arctic oil pollution.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)75-83
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Hazardous Materials
Publication statusPublished - 30 Dec 2015


  • Biodegradation
  • Gas chromatography-mass spectrometry
  • Marine arctic environment
  • Oil hydrocarbon fingerprint
  • Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon
  • TOC graphic

Programme Area

  • Programme Area 2: Water Resources


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