Feedback mechanisms between snow and atmospheric mercury: Results and observations from field campaigns on the Antarctic plateau

Andrea Spolaor, Hélène Angot, Marco Roman, Aurélien Dommergue, Claudio Scarchilli, Massimiliano Vardè, Massimo Del Guasta, Xanthi Pedeli, Cristiano Varin, Francesca Sprovieri, Olivier Magand, Michel Legrand, Carlo Barbante, Warren R.L. Cairns

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4 Citations (Scopus)


The Antarctic Plateau snowpack is an important environment for the mercury geochemical cycle. We have extensively characterized and compared the changes in surface snow and atmospheric mercury concentrations that occur at Dome C. Three summer sampling campaigns were conducted between 2013 and 2016. The three campaigns had different meteorological conditions that significantly affected mercury deposition processes and its abundance in surface snow. In the absence of snow deposition events, the surface mercury concentration remained stable with narrow oscillations, while an increase in precipitation results in a higher mercury variability. The Hg concentrations detected confirm that snowfall can act as a mercury atmospheric scavenger. A high temporal resolution sampling experiment showed that surface concentration changes are connected with the diurnal solar radiation cycle. Mercury in surface snow is highly dynamic and it could decrease by up to 90% within 4/6 h. A negative relationship between surface snow mercury and atmospheric concentrations has been detected suggesting a mutual dynamic exchange between these two environments. Mercury concentrations were also compared with the Br concentrations in surface and deeper snow, results suggest that Br could have an active role in Hg deposition, particularly when air masses are from coastal areas. This research presents new information on the presence of Hg in surface and deeper snow layers, improving our understanding of atmospheric Hg deposition to the snow surface and the possible role of re-emission on the atmospheric Hg concentration.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)306 - 317
Number of pages12
Publication statusPublished - 1 Apr 2018
Externally publishedYes


All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Chemistry(all)
  • Environmental Chemistry

Cite this

Spolaor, A., Angot, H., Roman, M., Dommergue, A., Scarchilli, C., Vardè, M., Del Guasta, M., Pedeli, X., Varin, C., Sprovieri, F., Magand, O., Legrand, M., Barbante, C., & Cairns, W. R. L. (2018). Feedback mechanisms between snow and atmospheric mercury: Results and observations from field campaigns on the Antarctic plateau. Chemosphere, 197, 306 - 317.