Trace elements in Antarctic air and snowfall

first_imgMeasurements of trace elements in snow and ice are frequently used to describe past atmospheric composition although there is no firm basis for assuming a direct connection. Trace-element concentrations have been measured on samples of aerosol and freshly fallen snow collected simultaneously from two sites in the Antarctic Peninsula during summer. Following improvements in contamination control, the reported concentrations and crustal enrichment factors of Cd, Cu, Pb and Zn in the aerosol are lower than any values previously reported from Antarctica. Even tighter controls will be required in the future. For a crustal element (A1) and for the marine cations (Na, Ca and K) a consistent ratio (0.48±0.31) for the concentration in air (pg m−3)/concentration in snow (pg g−1) is obtained for simultaneously collected samples. This supports a simple model of aerosol scavenging proposed by Junge which considers aerosol removal over polar ice sheets to be dominated by in-cloud processes. Averaged data for Cd, Cu, Pb and Zn from samples collected at different times appear to behave similarly. These findings suggest that there is no preferential scavenging by snowfall of either crustal or heavy metal components in contemporary aerosol. If proved more general in Antarctica this may help to simplify the interpretation of time series data from ice cores.last_img read more