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Antarctic winter mercury and ozone depletion events over sea ice

Abstract : During atmospheric mercury and ozone depletion events in the springtime in polar regions gaseous elemental mercury and ozone undergo rapid declines. Mercury is quickly 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. Br2 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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Contributor : Bérénice Boeuf <>
Submitted on : Thursday, August 4, 2016 - 3:22:50 PM
Last modification on : Tuesday, September 7, 2021 - 3:54:59 PM




Mn Mastromonaco, K. Gårdfeldt, Bruno Jourdain, K. Abrahamsson, A. Granfors, et al.. Antarctic winter mercury and ozone depletion events over sea ice. Atmospheric Environment, Elsevier, 2016, 129, pp.125-132. ⟨10.1016/j.atmosenv.2016.01.023⟩. ⟨insu-01351687⟩



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