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Long-term continuous monitoring of mercury in the Russian arctic: winter increase of atmospheric mercury depletion events

Authors:
  • of Northern Environmental Problem, Kola Science Centre of the Russian Academy of Sciences

Abstract

Abstracts of European Geosciences Union (EGU) General Assembly, 27 Apr – 2 May 2014, Vienna, Austria; Geophysical Research Abstracts, Vol.16, EGU2014-16608
Geophysical Research Abstracts
Vol. 16, EGU2014-16608, 2014
EGU General Assembly 2014
© Author(s) 2014. CC Attribution 3.0 License.
Long-term continuous monitoring of mercury in the Russian arctic:
winter increase of atmospheric mercury depletion events
Fidel Pankratov (1), Alexander Mahura (2), Valentin Popov (1), and Oleg Katz (3)
(1) Research and Production Association Typhoon of Roshydromet, Obninsk, Russia, (2) Danish Meteorological Institute,
Research and Development Department, Copenhagen, Denmark, (3) B-Service Ltd, Chief Information Office (CIO), Russia
Among pollutants mercury is a major environmental concern due to its ecological hazard. The mercury can reside
in the atmosphere for a long time high, and it is a reason of its global propagation in the Northern Hemisphere and
elevated mercury concentrations are reported in the Arctic environment. First time, in 1995, the effect of atmo-
spheric mercury depletion in the troposphere was found at the Canadian station Alert. This phenomenon (called
the Atmospheric Mercury Depletion Event - AMDE) is observed during April-June, when the Polar sunrise starts
till the end of the snowmelt. The same effect was reported for other polar stations situated to the north of 60N.
Long-term continuous monitoring of gaseous elemental mercury in the surface air at the polar station Amderma
(69,720N; 61,620E) using the analyzer Tekran 2537A has been conducted from Jun 2001 to date. Individual mea-
surements were collected every thirty minutes. It has been shown, that during eleven years of observations the
AMDEs were observed every year, from the end of March till early June. For the winter period (Dec-Feb) these
events of the atmospheric mercury depletion were registered from 2010 to 2013, which had not been observed
before. A large number of hours during the day, when the concentration of mercury was recorded at level of below
1 ng/m3, was registered during Dec-Feb. The sun declination above the horizon is negative, and solar activity is
still not enough to trigger the photochemical reactions. The these last 3 years confirmed a tendency to displacement
of AMDEs to the winter season, which leads to an additional factor entry of mercury in various biological objects,
due to the additional deposition of various forms of mercury on the snowpack. At the same time, especially during
the winter seasons, there is a substantial increase (up to 8 times) of AMDEs, compared with the previous years. In
particular, in winter 2013 the maximum number of AMDs reached 31 cases. The explanation can be the following:
the withdrawal of elemental mercury from the atmosphere may be caused by deposition of mercury on marine
aerosol particles. Marine aerosol concentration increases in the case of exemption from coastal ice (Kara Sea) and,
simultaneously, at the time when the northern wind direction is dominating. When the southern wind direction
is prevailing, the deposition of mercury on anthropogenic aerosols transported from the middle latitudes is taken
place.
Acknowledgement - Financial support for the monitoring program was provided by Environment Canada, AMAP
Secretariate and Russian Federal Service for Hydrometeorology and Environmental Monitoring.
... В практике мониторинга тяжелых металлов в приземном слое атмосферы на российской полярной станции «Амдерма» данный эксперимент был проведен впервые. Для обозначения случаев, когда в течение длительного времени (не менее 2 часов) в приземном слое атмосферы регистрируются повышенные значения концентрации ртути (> 1,81 нг/м 3 ) аналогично термину «истощения» используется термин «увеличения» ртути (AMEEs -Atmospheric Mercury Enhancement Events -события увеличения атмосферной ртути) [4]. Пространственное распределение концентрации ЭГР в Северном полушарии, для периода времени с 2001 по 2005 г. представлено в таблице № 1. Согласно проведённым измерениям, установлено, что концентрация ртути в северном полушарии составляет 1,5-1,7 нг/м 3 , а в южном полушарии ≈ 1,3 нг/м 3 [7]. ...
... Сравнительный анализ динамики ЭГР для 4 летнего периода мониторинга (2010-2013 г.г.) показал, что наблюдается понижение концентрации ЭГР, начиная с 2005 г., особенно это заметно для весенних и зимних сезонов (рис. 2)[4].Рис. 2. Сезонная изменчивость концентрации ЭГР в период долговременного мониторинга (2001-2013 г.г.); линейная аппроксимация тренда среднемесячных значений ЭГР (зеленая штриховая линия) для всех сезонов. ...
... However, the maximum of AMEEs has been registered to be shifted from spring to summer season. Also, the number of AMDEs was increasing in winter of 2010-2013 (maximum up to 8 times as compared to previous years) (Pankratov et al., 2014). Tendency of increasing of mercury depletion events in the summer and autumn seasons of 2010-2013 should also be noted relative to the entire monitoring period (2001)(2002)(2003)(2004)(2005)(2006)(2007)(2008)(2009)(2010)(2011)(2012)(2013). ...
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Conference Paper
Mercury is one of the most toxic heavy metals, which poses a serious threat to the Arctic environment. Atmospheric transport in high-altitude area of Polar regions is the main channel of mercury from the middle and southern latitudes, where the sources of mercury can be of both anthropogenic and natural origins. Rivers of the Arctic Ocean basin is the second largest channel of mercury pollution in Arctic. With its unique properties mercury is capable to be transported over long distances depositing on the underlying surface and transforming into more toxic compounds. This leads to the accumulation of mercury in Arctic ecosystems. The monitoring has demonstrated that the background concentrations of elemental mercury in the surface layer in the Russian Arctic (1.5 ± 0.4 ng m-3) are similar to the global background - 1.5 – 1.7 ng m-3 in the Northern Hemisphere (Steffen, et al., 2008). In 1998 the "depletion" of atmospheric mercury in the air (AMDE - Atmospheric Mercury Depletion Event) had been recorded on the polar Canadian station “Alert” (Schroeder at al., 1998). Since 2001, at the polar station “Amderma” (69,45°N, 61,39°E, Yugor Peninsula, Nenets Autonomous Region, Russia) the mercury analyzer was installed and AMDEs events were registered there as well (Pankratov et al., 2008). Such event means an abrupt decrease in the concentration of gaseous elemental mercury (GEM) in the atmospheric boundary layer during spring time. If we consider the variability of mercury concentrations within the coastal zone, than it was mostly all cases depletion of mercury were recorded within a 10 km zone from the coast (ice Chorus) at a depth of land and no more than 100 meters into the ocean (Huiting Mao, et al., 2011). Studies conducted for measured values of mercury concentrations in the troposphere, using air probes shown that GEM is presented in the troposphere to a height of no more than 8 km. However, even at these altitudes, there were cases of mercury depletion (Radke et al., 2007; Swartzendruber et al., 2008). This process is the main factor of mercury flow from the atmosphere resulting in the intensive deposition of mercury on the surfaces of snow and ice in coastal zone of the Arctic seas. In the soil, microorganisms transform deposited elemental mercury into more toxic organic forms, for example, methyl-mercury (Sillman et al., 2007; Selin et al., 2007; Weiss-Penzias et al., 2009). Organic forms of mercury further accumulate through food chains in fish, marine mammals and higher predators, and finally - in bodies of native population. Over the past 100 years, emissions from anthropogenic sources have led to a doubling of mercury in the upper 100 m of the world ocean, leading to intense pollution of various biological objects.
Full-text available
Thesis
Mercury is one of the most toxic heavy metals, which poses a serious threat to the Arctic environment. Atmospheric transport to the high-altitude area of polar region is the main channel of mercury contamination from the middle and southern latitudes, where mercury is emitted by anthropogenic and natural sources. Rivers of the Arctic Ocean basin is the second largest channel of mercury pollution in Arctic. With its unique properties mercury can be transported over long distances, deposited on the underlying surface, and transformed into more toxic compounds. This leads to the accumulation of mercury in Arctic ecosystems. In 1998 the "depletion" of atmospheric mercury in the air (AMDEs - Atmospheric Mercury Depletion Events) has been recorded on the Polar Station "Alert" (Canada). This event is an abrupt decrease of the mercury concentration in the atmospheric boundary layer in the spring time. This process is the main factor of mercury discharge from the atmosphere which leads to intensive deposition of mercury on the surface of snow and ice in the coastal zone of the Arctic seas. Soil microorganisms transform deposited elemental mercury into the more toxic forms, for example, methylmercury. Organic forms of mercury further accumulate through the food chains in fish, marine mammals, higher predators, and finally with food in the bodies of the native population. Over the past 100 years, mercury concentration in the upper 100 m of the world ocean doubled as the result of emissions from anthropogenic sources, causing intensive pollution of various biological objects.
Article
Continuous observations of elementary mercury vapor concentration in the surface atmosphere at the polar station Amderma with the help of the automated analyzer Tekran 2537A from June 2001 to February 2004 are described. Individual measurements were taken every hour. The principle of operation of the analyzer is based on high-selectivity adsorption of mercury vapors from the air onto a high-purity gold adsorbent. Afterward, the amalgamated mercury is thermally desorbed and measured with an atomic-fluorescence cold vapor spectrometer. The mean mercury concentration for the observational period is 1.68 ± 0.45 ng/m 3. The springtime mercury concentration at the settlement of Amderma drops similarly to the situation observed in the Arctic regions of Canada, United States, Norway, and Denmark. In the springtime, from late March to mid-June, the variability of mercury concentration increases sharply, while its mean value decreases. In May 2002, the mean mercury concentration is 1.21 ± 0.47 ng/m 3.
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