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Atmospheric Transport of Mercury to the Tibetan Plateau

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journal contribution
posted on 15.11.2007, 00:00 by Mark Loewen, Shichang Kang, Debbie Armstrong, Qianggong Zhang, Gregg Tomy, Feiyue Wang
The Tibetan Plateau (including the Himalayas) is one of the most remote and cold regions in the world. It has very limited to nonexistent industry but is adjacent to the two most populous and rapidly industrializing countries (China and India) and thus provides a unique location for studying the atmospheric transport of mercury. Here we report the first study on the atmospheric transport of mercury to the Tibetan Plateau. The total mercury profiles in four snowpits from glaciers above 5700 m asl along a southwest-northeast transect across the central Tibetan Plateau were obtained in 2005−2006. In general, the total mercury concentrations in the snow samples ranged from <1 to 9 ng L-1, increasing northeastward from the southernmost site at Mount Everest. Higher total mercury concentrations were found in the snow deposited in the nonmonsoon season, as indicated by seasonal variation of δ18O values and major ions in the snowpack. The annual atmospheric depositional flux of total Hg was estimated to range from 0.74 to 2.97 μg m-2 yr-1 in the region, the majority of which occurred via particulate matter deposition.