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Photoreducible Mercury Loss from Arctic Snow Is Influenced by Temperature and Snow Age

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Department of Earth and Environmental Science, and §Department of Biology, Acadia University, Wolfville, NS Canada
Department of Earth Science, Memorial University of Newfoundland, St. John’s, NL Canada
Air Quality Science Division, Environment Canada, Dartmouth, NS Canada
*Telephone: (902)585-1679. E-mail: [email protected]
Cite this: Environ. Sci. Technol. 2015, 49, 20, 12120–12126
Publication Date (Web):September 15, 2015
Copyright © 2015 American Chemical Society

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    Mercury (Hg) is an important environmental contaminant, due to its neurotoxicity and ability to bioaccumulate. The Arctic is a mercury-sensitive region, where organisms can accumulate high Hg concentrations. Snowpack mercury photoredox reactions may control how much Hg is transported with melting Arctic snow. This work aimed to (1) determine the significance of temperature combined with UV irradiation intensity and snow age on Hg(0) flux from Arctic snow and (2) elucidate the effect of temperature on snowpack Hg photoreduction kinetics. Using a Teflon flux chamber, snow temperature, UV irradiation, and snow age were found to significantly influence Hg(0) flux from Arctic snow. Cross-correlation analysis results suggest that UV radiation has a direct effect on Hg(0)flux, while temperature may indirectly influence flux. Laboratory experiments determined that temperature influenced Hg photoreduction kinetics when snow approached the melting point (>−2 °C), where the pseudo-first-order reduction rate constant, k, decreased twofold, and the photoreduced Hg amount, Hg(II)red, increased 10-fold. This suggests that temperature influences Hg photoreduction kinetics indirectly, likely by altering the solid:liquid water ratio. These results imply that large mass transfers of Hg from snow to air may take place during the Arctic snowmelt period, altering photoreducible Hg retention and transport with snow meltwater.

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