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Nitrate stable isotopes and major ions in snow and ice samples from four Svalbard sites

Review article
Authors C. P. Vega
Mats P. Björkman
V. A. Pohjola
E. Isaksson
R. Pettersson
T. Martma
A. Marca
J. Kaiser
Published in Polar Research
Volume 34
Pages Article nr. 23246
ISSN 0800-0395
Publication year 2015
Published at Department of Earth Sciences
Pages Article nr. 23246
Language en
Keywords Nitrate, isotopes, ice cores, Svalbard, pollutants, ATMOSPHERIC NITRATE, N-15/N-14 RATIOS, DENITRIFIER METHOD, GREENLAND, LOMONOSOVFONNA, CORES, ACCUMULATION, TRENDS, RECORD, SUMMIT, Ecology, Geosciences, Multidisciplinary, Oceanography, -JRC/PBL
Subject categories Geology, Oceanography


Increasing reactive nitrogen (N-r) deposition in the Arctic may adversely impact N-limited ecosystems. To investigate atmospheric transport of N-r to Svalbard, Norwegian Arctic, snow and firn samples were collected from glaciers and analysed to define spatial and temporal variations (1 10 years) in major ion concentrations and the stable isotope composition (delta N-15 and delta O-18) of nitrate (NO3-) across the archipelago. The delta N-15(NO3-) and delta O-18(NO3-) averaged -4 parts per thousand and 67 parts per thousand in seasonal snow (2010-11) and -9 parts per thousand and 74 parts per thousand in firn accumulated over the decade 2001-2011. East-west zonal gradients were observed across the archipelago for some major ions (non-sea salt sulphate and magnesium) and also for delta N-15(NO3-) and delta O-18(NO3-) in snow, which suggests a different origin for air masses arriving in different sectors of Svalbard. We propose that snowfall associated with long-distance air mass transport over the Arctic Ocean inherits relatively low delta N-15(NO3-) due to in-transport N isotope fractionation. In contrast, faster air mass transport from the north-west Atlantic or northern Europe results in snowfall with higher delta N-15(NO3-) because in-transport fractionation of N is then time-limited.

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