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Investigating the occurrence of persistent organic pollutants in the Arctic: their atmospheric behaviour and interaction with the seasonal snow pack.

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal article

Published

Journal publication date26/06/2004
JournalEnvironmental Pollution
Journal number1-2
Volume128
Number of pages13
Pages163-175
Original languageEnglish

Abstract

POPs in the Arctic are the focus of international concern due to their occurrence and accumulation in Arctic food webs. This paper presents an overview of the major pathways into the Arctic and details contemporary studies that have focused on the occurrence and transfer of POPs between the major Arctic compartments, highlighting areas where there is a lack of quantitative information. The behaviour of these chemicals in the Arctic atmosphere is scrutinised with respect to long-term trends and seasonal behaviour. Subtle differences between the PCBs and OC pesticides are demonstrated and related to sources outside of the Arctic as well as environmental processes within the Arctic. Unlike temperate regions, contaminant fate is strongly affected by the presence of snow and ice. A description of the high Arctic snow pack is given and the physical characteristics that determine chemical fate, namely the specific surface area of snow and wind driven ventilation, are discussed. Using a well-characterised fresh snow event observed at Alert (Canadian high Arctic) [Atmos. Environ. 36(2002) 2767] the flux of γ-HCH out of the snow is predicted following snow ageing. Under conditions of wind (10 m/s) it is estimated that ≈75% of the chemical may be re-emitted to the atmosphere within 24 h following snowfall, compared with just ≈5% under conditions of no wind. The implications of this are raised and areas of further research suggested.

Bibliographic note

Halsall wrote this paper based on research gaps identified as a result of work conducted on a NERC standard research grant. The paper contributed to a lead programme as part of the International Polar Year (IPY) and is setting the agenda for research into air'snow pollutant transfer. RAE_import_type : Journal article RAE_uoa_type : Earth Systems and Environmental Sciences