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Origin and Sources of Dissolved Organic Matter in Snow on the East Antarctic Ice Sheet

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National Centre for Antarctic and Ocean Research, Headland Sada, Vasco-Da-Gama, Goa 403 804, India
Villanova University, Department of Chemistry, Villanova, Pennsylvania 19085, United States
§ Old Dominion University, Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, Norfolk, Virginia 23529, United States
*Phone: +91 832 2525632; fax: +91 832 2520877; e-mail: [email protected]
Cite this: Environ. Sci. Technol. 2014, 48, 11, 6151–6159
Publication Date (Web):May 7, 2014
Copyright © 2014 American Chemical Society

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    Polar ice sheets hold a significant pool of the world’s carbon reserve and are an integral component of the global carbon cycle. Yet, organic carbon composition and cycling in these systems is least understood. Here, we use ultrahigh resolution mass spectrometry to elucidate, at an unprecedented level, molecular details of dissolved organic matter (DOM) in Antarctic snow. Tens of thousands of distinct molecular species are identified, providing clues to the nature and sources of organic carbon in Antarctica. We show that many of the identified supraglacial organic matter formulas are consistent with material from microbial sources, and terrestrial inputs of vascular plant-derived materials are likely more important sources of organic carbon to Antarctica than previously thought. Black carbon-like material apparently originating from biomass burning in South America is also present, while a smaller fraction originated from soil humics and appears to be photochemically or microbially modified. In addition to remote continental sources, we document signals of oceanic emissions of primary aerosols and secondary organic aerosol precursors. The new insights on the diversity of organic species in Antarctic snowpack reinforce the importance of studying organic carbon associated with the Earth’s polar regions in the face of changing climate.

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