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Antarctic winter mercury and ozone depletion events over sea ice

Journal article
Authors Michelle Nerentorp
K. Gardfeldt
B. Jourdain
Katarina Abrahamsson
Anna Granfors
Martin Ahnoff
A. Dommergue
G. Mejean
H. W. Jacobi
Published in Atmospheric Environment
Volume 129
Pages 125-132
ISSN 1352-2310
Publication year 2016
Published at Department of marine sciences
Pages 125-132
Language en
Keywords Mercury, Ozone, Depletion event, Antarctica, Sea ice, dissolved gaseous mercury, atmospheric mercury, polar sunrise, surface, ozone, springtime depletion, molecular halogens, coastal antarctica, elemental mercury, tropospheric bro, arctic-ocean, Environmental Sciences & Ecology, Meteorology & Atmospheric Sciences
Subject categories Chemical Sciences, Environmental Sciences


During atmospheric mercury and ozone depletion events in the springtime in polar regions gaseous elemental mercury and ozone undergo rapid declines. Mercury is quicldy transformed into oxidation products, which are subsequently removed by deposition. Here we show that such events also occur during Antarctic winter over sea ice areas, leading to additional deposition of mercury. Over four months in the Weddell Sea we measured gaseous elemental, oxidized, and particulate-bound mercury, as well as ozone in the troposphere and total and elemental mercury concentrations in snow, demonstrating a series of depletion and deposition events between July and September. The winter depletions in July were characterized by stronger correlations between mercury and ozone and larger formation of particulate-bound mercury in air compared to later spring events. It appears that light at large solar zenith angles is sufficient to initiate the photolytic formation of halogen radicals. We also propose a dark mechanism that could explain observed events in air masses coming from dark regions. Br-2 that could be the main actor in dark conditions was possibly formed in high concentrations in the marine boundary layer in the dark. These high concentrations may also have caused the formation of high concentrations of CHBr3 and CH2I2 in the top layers of the Antarctic sea ice observed during winter. These new findings show that the extent of depletion events is larger than previously believed and that winter depletions result in additional deposition of mercury that could be transferred to marine and terrestrial ecosystems.

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