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Diurnal production of gaseous mercury in the alpine snowpack before snowmelt

Abstract : In March 2005, an extensive mercury study was performed just before snowmelt at Col de Porte, an alpine site close to Grenoble, France. Total mercury concentration in the snowpack ranged from 80 ± 08 to 160 ± 15 ng l−1, while reactive mercury was below detection limit (0.2 ng l−1). We observed simultaneously a production of gaseous elemental mercury (GEM) in the top layer of the snowpack and an emission flux from the snow surface to the atmosphere. Both phenomena were well correlated with solar irradiation, indicating photo-induced reactions in the snow interstitial air (SIA). The mean daily flux of GEM from the snowpack was estimated at ∼9 ng m−2 d−1. No depletion of GEM concentrations was observed in the SIA, suggesting no occurrence of oxidation processes. The presence of liquid water in the snowpack clearly enhanced GEM production in the SIA. Laboratory flux chamber measurements enabled us to confirm that GEM production from this alpine snowpack was first driven by solar radiation (especially UVA and UVB radiation), and then by liquid water in the snowpack. Finally, a large GEM emission from the snow surface occurred during snowmelt, and we report total mercury concentrations in meltwater of about 72 ng l−1.
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Xavier Faïn, Sylvain Grangeon, Enno Bahlmann, Johannes Fritsche, Daniel Obrist, et al.. Diurnal production of gaseous mercury in the alpine snowpack before snowmelt. Journal of Geophysical Research: Atmospheres, American Geophysical Union, 2007, 112 (D21311), 1 à 12 p. ⟨10.1029/2007JD008520⟩. ⟨insu-00376267⟩

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