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Natural fluctuations of mercury and lead in Greenland lake sediments
Umeå University, Faculty of Science and Technology, Department of Ecology and Environmental Sciences.
Umeå University, Faculty of Science and Technology, Department of Ecology and Environmental Sciences.
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2006 (English)In: Environmental Science and Technology, ISSN 0013-936X, E-ISSN 1520-5851, Vol. 40, no 1, 90-95 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Given the current scenario of increasing global temperatures, it is valuable to assess the potential influence of changing climate on pollution distribution and deposition. In this study we use long-term sediment records from three lakes (spanning ca. 1000, 4800, and 8000 years, respectively) from the Greenland west coast to assess recent and long-term variations in mercury (Hg) and lead (Pb), including stable Pb isotopes (206Pb and 207Pb), in terms of pollution and climate influences. The temporal trends in sediment deposited from about the mid-19th century and forward are in general agreement with the history of industrial emissions at lower latitudes. Therefore, in recent sediment a possible influence from changing climate is difficult to assess. However, by using deeper sediment layers we show that changes in Greenland climate caused changes in the lake influx of material from regional aeolian activity, which resulted in large fluctuations in Hg and Pb concentrations and206Pb/207Pb ratios. The aeolian material is primarily derived from glacio-fluvial material with low Hg and Pb concentrations and a different isotopic composition. For one of the lakes, the fluctuations in Hg concentrations (10 to 70 ng g-1) prior to the 19th century are equal to the anthropogenic increase in the uppermost layers, suggesting that when studying recent concentrations and time trends of pollution in relatively low-contaminated areas such as the Arctic, the early natural fluctuations must be considered.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
American Chemical Society , 2006. Vol. 40, no 1, 90-95 p.
National Category
Environmental Sciences
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-2196DOI: 10.1021/es051223yOAI: oai:DiVA.org:umu-2196DiVA: diva2:140077
Available from: 2007-03-28 Created: 2007-03-28 Last updated: 2017-12-14Bibliographically approved
In thesis
1. Long-term changes of mercury, lead and persistent organic pollutants in arctic environments
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Long-term changes of mercury, lead and persistent organic pollutants in arctic environments
2007 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

The Arctic represents a huge area with poor infrastructure contributing to limited possibilities to establish monitoring and research programs. From the investigations that have been performed we know that the arctic environment is affected by anthropogenic emissions from lower latitudes, but knowledge about underlying transport processes, the arctic pollution extent and the rates of changes are limited. This is of particular concern since we are facing climate changes that will not only influence the pole-ward transport of pollutants, but also change conditions for the already accumulated pollutants in the arctic environment.

In this thesis lake sediments and soil samples are used to study sub-arctic and arctic time trends and loads of PCBs, PBDE, pesticides, mercury and lead. The study sites are the area around Kangerlussuaq, located in western Greenland, and the Swedish mountains. The temporal trends for PCBs (69 congeners), PBDE (#47) and two pesticides (chlordane and hexachlorobenzene) are studied in seven surface lake sediment cores from Greenland. The concentrations of these persistent organic pollutants are one to two orders of magnitude lower compared to lake sediments from lower latitudes, but with temporal trends following emission and usage trends at lower altitudes, i.e., decreasing trends for PCBs, increasing for PBDE and no specific trends for the pesticides. A delayed deposition of the low-chlorinated PCBs compared to the high-chlorinated PCBs may support the hypothesis of ‘cold condensation’ and ‘global fractionation’ i.e., volatile compounds are fractionated during the pole-ward transport. For lead the concentration in three Greenland lake sediments is about 10 times lower than in sediments from industrial regions, but the past 200 years’ temporal trends follow emission trends in industrial regions. The mercury concentration and enrichment following the Industrial Revolution in the mid 19th century are in three lake sediments from Greenland and in twelve lake sediments from the Swedish mountains comparable with those in sediments from industrial regions; a result of the long atmospheric residence-time for mercury, making it a global pollution. Recently decreased mercury emissions in North America and Europe give declining concentrations in the sediment surfaces, especially in lakes located in the Swedish mountains. In Greenland deeper sediment cores, spanning the last 8000 years, there are substantial fluctuations in mercury concentration and stable lead isotopes (206Pb/207Pb). These fluctuations are the result of variations in deposition to the lake of aeolian material, driven by past variations in arctic climate. In surface soil the mercury concentrations and inventories from the Swedish mountains are 1.5-2 times higher than in soils from Greenland, but for both regions the concentrations are below the critical concentration set up by UN-ECE to protect the terrestrial ecosystem. No indications for mercury enrichment in colder areas, as suggested by the hypothesis of ‘cold condensation’, or in coastal areas, as suggested by the hypothesis of ‘mercury depletion events’, were observed. The highly minerogenic surface soils in sub-arctic and arctic regions have reduced capacity to store mercury, compared to boreal soils.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Umeå: Ekologi, miljö och geovetenskap, 2007. 18 p.
Keyword
Lake sediment, time trends, chlordane, hexachlorobenzene, mercury, lead, soil, climate changes, Arctic, Greenland, Sweden, Swedish mountains, PCB, PBDE, pesticides
National Category
Earth and Related Environmental Sciences
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-1060 (URN)978-91-7264-279-9 (ISBN)
Public defence
2007-04-20, KB3A9, KBC, KBC, Umeå, 10:00 (English)
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Available from: 2007-03-28 Created: 2007-03-28 Last updated: 2009-12-03Bibliographically approved

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