Fate of elemental mercury in the Arctic during atmospheric mercury depletion episodes and the load of atmospheric mercury to the Arctic.
ABSTRACT Atmospheric mercury depletion episodes (AMDEs) were studied at Station Nord, Northeast Greenland, 81 degrees 36' N, 16 degrees 40' W, during the Arctic Spring. Gaseous elemental mercury (GEM) and ozone were measured starting from 1998 and 1999, respectively, until August 2002. GEM was measured with a TEKRAN 2735A automatic mercury analyzer based on preconcentration of mercury on a gold trap followed by detection using fluorescence spectroscopy. Ozone was measured by UV absorption. A scatter plot of GEM and ozone concentrations confirmed that also at Station Nord GEM and ozone are linearly correlated during AMDEs. The relationship between ozone and GEM is further investigated in this paper using basic reaction kinetics (i.e., Cl, ClO, Br, and BrO have been suggested as reactants for GEM). The analyses in this paper show that GEM in the Arctic troposphere most probably reacts with Br. On the basis of the experimental results of this paper and results from the literature, a simple parametrization for AMDE was included into the Danish Eulerian Hemispheric Model (DEHM). In the model, GEM is converted linearly to reactive gaseous mercury (RGM) over sea ice with temperature below -4 degrees C with a lifetime of 3 or 10 h. The new AMDE parametrization was used together with the general parametrization of mercury chemistry [Petersen, G.; Munthe, J.; Pleijel, K.; Bloxam, R.; Vinod Kumar, A. Atmos. Environ. 1998, 32, 829-843]. The obtained model results were compared with measurements of GEM at Station Nord. There was good agreement between the start and general features periods with AMDEs, although the model could not reproduce the fast concentration changes, and the correlation between modeled and measured values decreased from 2000 to 2001 and further in 2002. The modeled RGM concentrations over the Arctic in 2000 were found to agree well with the temporal and geographical variability of the boundary column of monthly average BrO observed by the GOME satellite. Scenario calculations were performed with and without AMDEs. For the area north of the Polar Circle, the mercury deposition increases from 89 tons/year for calculations without an AMDE to 208 tons/year with the AMDE. The 208 tons/year represent an upper limit for the mercury load to the Artic.
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ABSTRACT: Measurements of gaseous elemental mercury (GEM), reactive gaseous mercury (RGM) and particulate mercury (PHg) were collected on sea ice near open leads in the Beaufort Sea near Barrow, Alaska in March 2009 as part of the Ocean-Atmosphere-Sea Ice-Snowpack (OASIS) International Polar Year Program. These results represent the first atmospheric mercury speciation measurements collected on the sea ice. Concentrations of PHg over the sea ice averaged 393.5 pg m-3 (range 47.1-900.1 pg m-3) during the two week long study. RGM concentrations averaged 30.1 pg m-3 (range 3.5-105.4 pg m-3). The mean GEM concentration of 0.59 ng m-3 during the entire study (range 0.01-1.51 ng m-3) was depleted compared to annual Arctic ambient boundary layer concentrations. It was shown that when ozone (O3) and bromine oxide (BrO) chemistry are active there is a~linear relationship between GEM, PHg and O3 but there was no correlation between RGM and O3. There was a linear relationship between RGM and BrO and our results suggest that the origin and age of air masses play a role in determining this relationship. These results were the first direct measurements of these atmospheric components over the sea ice. For the first time, GEM was measured simultaneously over the tundra and the sea ice. The results show a significant difference in the magnitude of the emission of GEM from the two locations where significantly higher emission occurs over the tundra. Elevated chloride levels in snow over sea ice are believed to be the cause of lower GEM emissions over the sea ice because chloride has been shown to suppress photoreduction processes of Hg(II) to Hg(0) (GEM) in snow. These results are important because while GEM is emitted after depletion events on snow inland, less GEM is emitted over sea ice. Since the snow pack on sea ice retains more mercury than inland snow current models of the Arctic mercury cycle, which are based predominantly on land based measurements, may greatly underestimate atmospheric deposition fluxes. Land based measurements of atmospheric mercury deposition may also underestimate the impacts of sea ice changes on the mercury cycle in the Arctic. The findings reported in this study improve the current understanding of mercury cycling in the changing Arctic. The predicted changes in sea ice conditions and a~more saline snow pack in the Arctic could lead to even greater retention of atmospherically deposited mercury in the future. This could severely impact the amount of mercury entering the Arctic Ocean and coastal ecosystems.Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics 03/2013; 13(3):5687-5728. · 4.88 Impact Factor
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ABSTRACT: The ongoing regime shift of Arctic sea ice from perennial to seasonal ice is associated with more dynamic patterns of opening and closing sea-ice leads (large transient channels of open water in the ice), which may affect atmospheric and biogeochemical cycles in the Arctic. Mercury and ozone are rapidly removed from the atmospheric boundary layer during depletion events in the Arctic, caused by destruction of ozone along with oxidation of gaseous elemental mercury (Hg(0)) to oxidized mercury (Hg(ii)) in the atmosphere and its subsequent deposition to snow and ice. Ozone depletion events can change the oxidative capacity of the air by affecting atmospheric hydroxyl radical chemistry, whereas atmospheric mercury depletion events can increase the deposition of mercury to the Arctic, some of which can enter ecosystems during snowmelt. Here we present near-surface measurements of atmospheric mercury and ozone from two Arctic field campaigns near Barrow, Alaska. We find that coastal depletion events are directly linked to sea-ice dynamics. A consolidated ice cover facilitates the depletion of Hg(0) and ozone, but these immediately recover to near-background concentrations in the upwind presence of open sea-ice leads. We attribute the rapid recoveries of Hg(0) and ozone to lead-initiated shallow convection in the stable Arctic boundary layer, which mixes Hg(0) and ozone from undepleted air masses aloft. This convective forcing provides additional Hg(0) to the surface layer at a time of active depletion chemistry, where it is subject to renewed oxidation. Future work will need to establish the degree to which large-scale changes in sea-ice dynamics across the Arctic alter ozone chemistry and mercury deposition in fragile Arctic ecosystems.Nature 01/2014; · 38.60 Impact Factor
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ABSTRACT: The Arctic environment is undergoing changes due to climate shifts, receiving contaminants from distant sources and experiencing increased human activity. Climate change may alter microbial functioning by increasing growth rates and substrate use due to increased temperature. This may lead to changes of process rates and shifts in the structure of microbial communities. Biodiversity may increase as the Arctic warms and population shifts occur as psychrophilic/psychrotolerant species disappear in favor of more mesophylic ones. In order to predict how ecological processes will evolve as a function of global change, it is essential to identify which populations participate in each process, how they vary physiologically, and how the relative abundance, activity and community structure will change under altered environmental conditions. This review covers aspects of the importance and implication of snowpack in microbial ecology emphasizing the diversity and activity of these critical members of cold zone ecosystems.Biology 01/2013; 2(1):317-30.