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Polychlorinated biphenyls in a temperate Alpine glacier: 2. model results of chemical fate processes


Steinlin, Christine; Bogdal, Christian; Pavlova, Pavlina A; Schwikowski, Margit; Lüthi, Martin P; Scheringer, Martin; Schmidt, Peter; Hungerbühler, Konrad (2015). Polychlorinated biphenyls in a temperate Alpine glacier: 2. model results of chemical fate processes. Environmental Science & Technology, 49(24):14092-14100.

Abstract

We present results from a chemical fate model quantifying incorporation of polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) into the Silvretta glacier, a temperate Alpine glacier located in Switzerland. Temperate glaciers, in contrast to cold glaciers, are glaciers where melt processes are prevalent. Incorporation of PCBs into cold glaciers has been quantified in previous studies. However, the fate of PCBs in temperate glaciers has never been investigated. In the model, we include melt processes, inducing elution of water-soluble substances and, conversely, enrichment of particles and particle-bound chemicals. The model is validated by comparing modeled and measured PCB concentrations in an ice core collected in the Silvretta accumulation area. We quantify PCB incorporation between 1900 and 2010, and discuss the fate of six PCB congeners. PCB concentrations in the ice core peak in the period of high PCB emissions, as well as in years with strong melt. While for lower-chlorinated PCB congeners revolatilization is important, for higher-chlorinated congeners, the main processes are storage in glacier ice and removal by particle runoff. This study gives insight into PCB fate and dynamics and reveals the effect of snow accumulation and melt processes on the fate of semivolatile organic chemicals in a temperate Alpine glacier.

Abstract

We present results from a chemical fate model quantifying incorporation of polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) into the Silvretta glacier, a temperate Alpine glacier located in Switzerland. Temperate glaciers, in contrast to cold glaciers, are glaciers where melt processes are prevalent. Incorporation of PCBs into cold glaciers has been quantified in previous studies. However, the fate of PCBs in temperate glaciers has never been investigated. In the model, we include melt processes, inducing elution of water-soluble substances and, conversely, enrichment of particles and particle-bound chemicals. The model is validated by comparing modeled and measured PCB concentrations in an ice core collected in the Silvretta accumulation area. We quantify PCB incorporation between 1900 and 2010, and discuss the fate of six PCB congeners. PCB concentrations in the ice core peak in the period of high PCB emissions, as well as in years with strong melt. While for lower-chlorinated PCB congeners revolatilization is important, for higher-chlorinated congeners, the main processes are storage in glacier ice and removal by particle runoff. This study gives insight into PCB fate and dynamics and reveals the effect of snow accumulation and melt processes on the fate of semivolatile organic chemicals in a temperate Alpine glacier.

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Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:07 Faculty of Science > Institute of Geography
Dewey Decimal Classification:910 Geography & travel
Language:English
Date:2015
Deposited On:23 Dec 2015 11:05
Last Modified:08 Dec 2017 16:14
Publisher:American Chemical Society (ACS)
ISSN:0013-936X
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.1021/acs.est.5b03304

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