Mercury species export from the Arctic to the Atlantic Ocean

ole.valk [ at ]


The Fram Strait is the only deep connection between the Arctic and Atlantic Oceans. The main water and mercury (Hg) fluxes between these oceans occur via the Fram Strait and Barents Sea Opening. Several Hg mass balance studies indicated a net Hg export from the Arctic to the Atlantic Ocean. However, in the absence of Hg measurements in the Fram Strait and Barents Sea Opening, these estimates were based on North Atlantic and central Arctic Ocean data alone. Here, we refine the Arctic total Hg (tHg) and methylated Hg (MeHg) mass budgets using new data acquired during the 2015 GEOTRACES (section GN04) TransArcII cruise in the Barents Sea Opening and the 2016 GEOTRACES (section GN05) GRIFF cruise, which covered the Fram Strait and Northeast Greenland Shelf. Total Hg increased westward along the Fram Strait transect, reaching the highest concentrations on the Northeast Greenland Shelf. Concentrations of tHg averaged 1.29 ± 0.43 pM in the East Greenland Current, while core waters of the West Spitsbergen Current had average values of 0.80 ± 0.26 pM. Using our new data, we estimate that 43 ± 9 Mg y-1 of tHg is transported to the Arctic Ocean in the core of the West Spitsbergen Current, while 54 ± 13 Mg y-1 of tHg is exported from the Arctic Ocean in the East Greenland Current and Recirculated Atlantic Water. This results in a net tHg export of 11 ± 8 Mg y-1 via the Fram Strait. We find a shallow MeHg maximum (at 150Â m depth) in the East Greenland Current, in agreement to what was reported for the central Arctic Ocean and Canadian Arctic Archipelago. The West Spitsbergen Current is characterized by lower MeHg concentrations and a deeper MeHg maximum, that is located at approximately 1000Â m depth. We estimate a net MeHg export of 6 ± 2 Mg y-1 from the Arctic Ocean via the Fram Strait, which is nearly half of the exported tHg. Most of the exported MeHg is in the form of DMHg (2:1 ratio of dimethylmercury to monomethylmercury). Previous studies reported lower MeHg proportions. Our observations show that the Arctic Ocean is producing and exporting MeHg to the Atlantic Ocean. In total, the Arctic Ocean exports about 18 Mg y-1 of tHg to the Nordic Seas and North Atlantic via the Fram Strait and Davis Strait, of which 7.5 Mg y-1 is in the MeHg form.

Item Type
Primary Division
Primary Topic
Helmholtz Cross Cutting Activity (2021-2027)
Publication Status
Eprint ID
DOI 10.1016/j.marchem.2020.103855

Cite as
Petrova, M. V. , Krisch, S. , Lodeiro, P. , Valk, O. , Dufour, A. , Rijkenberg, M. J. , Achterberg, E. P. , Rabe, B. , Rutgers van der Loeff, M. , Hamelin, B. , Sonke, J. E. , Garnier, C. and Heimbürger-Boavida, L. E. (2020): Mercury species export from the Arctic to the Atlantic Ocean , Marine Chemistry, 225 , p. 103855 . doi: 10.1016/j.marchem.2020.103855

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