Mercury in Active-Layer Tundra Soils of Alaska: Concentrations, Pools, Origins, and Spatial Distribution

Olson, C. and Jiskra, M. and Biester, H. and Chow, J. and Obrist, D.. (2018) Mercury in Active-Layer Tundra Soils of Alaska: Concentrations, Pools, Origins, and Spatial Distribution. Global Biogeochemical Cycles, 32 (7). pp. 1058-1073.

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Tundra soils serve as major sources of mercury (Hg) input to the Arctic Ocean via river runoff and coastal erosion; yet little information is available on tundra soil Hg concentrations, pool sizes, origins, and dynamics. We present a detailed investigation of Hg in the active layer (upper ~100 cm subject to seasonal thaw) of tundra soils across 11 sites in Alaska. Soil Hg concentrations in organic horizons (151±7 µg kg-1) were in the upper range of temperate soil organic horizons, and concentrations in mineral horizons (98±6 µg kg-1) were much higher than in temperate soils. Soil Hg concentrations declined from inland to coastal sites, in contrast to a hypothesized northward increase expected because of proximity to coastal atmospheric mercury depletion events (AMDEs). Principle component analyses and elemental ratios results show that exogenic sources dominated over geogenic sources-in A-horizons (66±4%), and mineral B-horizons (51±1%). 14C age-dating suggested recent origins of Hg in surface soils but showed that mineral soils (more than 7,300 years old) must have accumulated atmospheric inputs across millennia leading to high soil concentrations and pools. We estimated a total Northern Hemisphere (NH) active-layer tundra soil Hg pool of 184 Gg (range of 136 Gg to 274 Gg), suggesting a globally important Hg storage pool. Tundra soils are subject to seasonal thaw and freeze dynamics, thereby providing large inputs to rivers, lakes, and the Arctic Ocean. Understanding processes that mobilize Hg from tundra soils will be critical to understanding future Arctic wildlife and humans Hg exposures.
Faculties and Departments:05 Faculty of Science > Departement Umweltwissenschaften > Geowissenschaften > Umweltgeowissenschaften (Alewell)
UniBasel Contributors:Jiskra, Martin
Item Type:Article, refereed
Article Subtype:Research Article
Note:Publication type according to Uni Basel Research Database: Journal article
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Last Modified:15 Jan 2020 13:40
Deposited On:08 Jan 2020 08:55

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