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Springtime changes in snow chemistry lead to new insights into mercury methylation in the Arctic

Abstract : Seasonal snow is an active media and an important climate factor that governs nutrient transfer in Arctic ecosystems. Since the snow stores and transforms nutrients and contaminants, it is of crucial importance to gain a better understanding of the dynamics of contaminant cycling within the snowpack and its subsequent release to catchments via meltwater. Over the course of a two-month field study in the spring of 2008, we collected snow and meltwater samples from a seasonal snowpack in Ny-Ålesund, Norway (78°56′N, 11°52′E), which were analyzed for major inorganic ions and some organic acids, as well as total, dissolved, bioavailable mercury (THg, DHg, BioHg, respectively) and monomethylmercury (MMHg) species. We observe a seasonal gradient for ion concentrations, with surface samples becoming less concentrated as the season progressed. A significant negative correlation between BioHg and MMHg was observed in the snowpack. MMHg was positively and significantly correlated to methanesulfonate concentrations. Based on these results, we propose a new model for aerobic methylation of mercury involving species in the dimethylsulfoniopropionate cycle.
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Catherine Larose, A. Domergue, Martine de Angelis, Daniel Cossa, Bernard Averty, et al.. Springtime changes in snow chemistry lead to new insights into mercury methylation in the Arctic. Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta, Elsevier, 2010, 74 (22), pp.6263-6275. ⟨10.1016/j.gca.2010.08.043⟩. ⟨insu-00562243⟩



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