The role of atmospheric precipitation in introducing contaminants to the surface waters of the Fuglebekken catchment, Spitsbergen
Although the Svalbard Archipelago is located at a high latitude, far from potential contaminant sources, it is not free from anthropogenic impact. Towards the Fuglebekken catchment, in the southern part of Spitsbergen, north of Hornsund fjord, contaminants can be transported from mainland pollution sources. In the precipitation and surface water collected in the catchment, the following elements were detected and quantified: Ag, Al, As, B, Ba, Bi, Ca, Cd, Co, Cr, Cu, Cs, Mo, Ni, Pb, Sb, Se, Sr, Tl, U, V and Zn. Additionally, pH, electrical conductivity and total organic carbon (TOC) were determined in those samples. The acidic reaction of precipitation waters was identified as an important factor intensifying the metal migration in this Arctic tundra environment. The air mass trajectory, surprisingly, explained the variability of only a small fraction of trace elements in precipitation water. The air mass origin area was correlated only with the concentrations of As, V and Cr. Wind directions were helpful in explaining the variability of Mn, U and Ba concentrations (east–north-easterly wind) and the contents of B, As, Rb, Se, Sr and Li in precipitation (south-westerly wind), which may indicate the local geological source of those. Atmospheric deposition was found to play a key role in the transport of contaminants into the Fuglebekken catchment; however, the surface water composition was modified by its pH and TOC content.
Keywords: Arctic; environmental chemistry; trace elements; metals; TOC; Svalbard.
(Published: 23 November 2015)
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Citation: Polar Research 2015, 34, 24207, http://dx.doi.org/10.3402/polar.v34.24207
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