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A temperate Alpine glacier as a reservoir of polychlorinated biphenyls: model results of incorporation, transport, and release


Steinlin, Christine; Bogdal, Christian; Lüthi, Martin P; Pavlova, Pavlina A; Schwikowski, Margit; Zennegg, Markus; Schmid, Peter; Scheringer, Martin; Hungerbühler, Konrad (2016). A temperate Alpine glacier as a reservoir of polychlorinated biphenyls: model results of incorporation, transport, and release. Environmental Science & Technology, 50(11):5572-5579.

Abstract

In previous studies, the incorporation of polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) has been quantified in the accumulation areas of Alpine glaciers. Here, we introduce a model framework that quantifies mass fluxes of PCBs in glaciers and apply it to the Silvretta glacier (Switzerland). The models include PCB incorporation into the entire surface of the glacier, downhill transport with the flow of the glacier ice, and chemical fate in the glacial lake. The models are run for the years 1900−2100 and validated by comparing modeled and measured PCB concentrations in an ice core, a lake sediment core, and the glacial streamwater. The incorporation and release fluxes, as well as the storage of PCBs in the glacier increase until the 1980s and decrease thereafter. After a
temporary increase in the 2000s, the future PCB release and the PCB concentrations in the glacial stream are estimated to be small but persistent throughout the 21st century. This study quantifies all relevant PCB fluxes in and from a temperate Alpine glacier over two centuries, and concludes that Alpine glaciers are a small secondary source of PCBs, but that the aftermath of
environmental pollution by persistent and toxic chemicals can endure for decades.

Abstract

In previous studies, the incorporation of polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) has been quantified in the accumulation areas of Alpine glaciers. Here, we introduce a model framework that quantifies mass fluxes of PCBs in glaciers and apply it to the Silvretta glacier (Switzerland). The models include PCB incorporation into the entire surface of the glacier, downhill transport with the flow of the glacier ice, and chemical fate in the glacial lake. The models are run for the years 1900−2100 and validated by comparing modeled and measured PCB concentrations in an ice core, a lake sediment core, and the glacial streamwater. The incorporation and release fluxes, as well as the storage of PCBs in the glacier increase until the 1980s and decrease thereafter. After a
temporary increase in the 2000s, the future PCB release and the PCB concentrations in the glacial stream are estimated to be small but persistent throughout the 21st century. This study quantifies all relevant PCB fluxes in and from a temperate Alpine glacier over two centuries, and concludes that Alpine glaciers are a small secondary source of PCBs, but that the aftermath of
environmental pollution by persistent and toxic chemicals can endure for decades.

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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:10 May 2016
Deposited On:24 May 2016 16:51
Last Modified:08 Dec 2017 19:31
Publisher:American Chemical Society (ACS)
ISSN:0013-936X
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.1021/acs.est.5b05886

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