In the study, we establish centennial records of anthropogenic lead pollution at different locations in the North Atlantic (Iceland, USA, and Europe) by means of lead deposited in shells of the long-lived bivalve Arctica islandica. Due to local oceanographic and geological conditions we conclude that the lead concentrations in the Icelandic shell reflect natural influxes of lead into Icelandic waters. In comparison, the lead profile of the US shell is clearly driven by anthropogenic lead emissions transported from the continent to the ocean by westerly surface winds. Lead concentrations in the European North Sea shell, in contrast, are dominantly driven by local lead sources resulting in a much less conspicuous 1970s gasoline lead peak. In conclusion, the lead profiles of the three shells are driven by different influxes of lead, and yet, all support the applicability of Pb/Ca analyses of A. islandica shells to reconstruct location specific anthropogenic lead pollution.
Helmholtz Research Programs > PACES I (2009-2013) > TOPIC 3: Lessons from the Past > WP 3.3: Proxy Development and Innovation: the Baseline for Progress in Paleoclimate Research