Mercury concentrations at Russian Arctic station “Amderma”

For the first time in the Russian Arctic the long-term (15 year period; 2001-2015) series of gaseous elementary mercury (thereafter, mercury) concentration in the surface layer of the atmosphere at the polar station “Amderma” had been measured. The mercury analyzer “Tekran 2537A” was located at three locations at different distances (ranging from 8.9 to 0.2 km, see Fig.1) from the coast of the Kara Sea. The most intense process of mercury deposition (i.e. Atmospheric Mercury Depletion Events, AMDEs) from the atmospheric boundary layer was observed at the site located at about 200 m away from the coastline of the Kara Sea. At the same time for the spring season the number of AMDEs doubled from 23.2 to 40.4% and for the winter season the number of AMDEs increased 10-fold from 0.2 to 26.9%.

The conducted studies showed that the mercury concentration data generated at the “Amderma” station are of great importance to forecast and estimate the entrance and spatio-temporal distribution of mercury in the different ecosystems of the Arctic region. Moreover, it was found that different forms of mercury could be carried into the Arctic region due to the long-range atmospheric transport during the active phase of the eruptions of the Icelandic volcanoes Eyjafjallajökull and Grímsvötn. This phenomenon has been registered for the first time during the long-term atmospheric mercury monitoring at this polar station.

The generated long-term monitoring data are already used for assessment of the intensity of mercury deposition on the underlying surface for various periods of time in the Arctic ecosystems. It can be used to evaluate the uptake of mercury by biological objects in the Arctic ecosystem starting from the moment of contamination of aquatic and terrestrial environments and to the moment of mercury accumulation in the body of prey animals, and ultimately bioaccumulation in the body of indigenous peoples.

The generated dataset on the “Long-term monitoring of gaseous elementary mercury in background air at the polar station Amderma, Russian Arctic” (as part of the Horizon-2020 iCUPE project collaboration activities with the PEEX Russian partners) is available at: https://www.atm.helsinki.fi/icupe/index.php/datasets/delivered-datasets. Description of the dataset metadata is also included in a separate ReadMe-file.

Text by Dr. Fidel Pankratov, Institute of Northern Environmental Problem (INEP), Kola Science Centre (KSC) of the Russian Academy of Science (RAS), Russia

Fig 1. Mercury analyzer “Tekran 2537A” was located at three locations A, B, C at different distances (ranging from 8.9 to 0.2 km) from the coast of the Kara Sea.
Geographical location of Amderma, Russia and Kara Sea.

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