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Antarctic-wide array of high-resolution ice core records reveals pervasive lead pollution began in 1889 and persists today

McConnell, J.R.; Maselli, O.J.; Sigl, M.; Vallelonga, P.; Neumann, T.; Anschutz, H.; Bales, R.C.; Curran, M.A.J.; Das, S.B.; Edwards, R.; Kipfstuhl, S.; Layman, L.; Thomas, E.. 2014 Antarctic-wide array of high-resolution ice core records reveals pervasive lead pollution began in 1889 and persists today. Scientific Reports, 4, 5848. 1-5. https://doi.org/10.1038/srep05848

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Abstract/Summary

Interior Antarctica is among the most remote places on Earth and was thought to be beyond the reach of human impacts when Amundsen and Scott raced to the South Pole in 1911. Here we show detailed measurements from an extensive array of 16 ice cores quantifying substantial toxic heavy metal lead pollution at South Pole and throughout Antarctica by 1889 – beating polar explorers by more than 22 years. Unlike the Arctic where lead pollution peaked in the 1970s, lead pollution in Antarctica was as high in the early 20th century as at any time since industrialization. The similar timing and magnitude of changes in lead deposition across Antarctica, as well as the characteristic isotopic signature of Broken Hill lead found throughout the continent, suggest that this single emission source in southern Australia was responsible for the introduction of lead pollution into Antarctica at the end of the 19th century and remains a significant source today. An estimated 660 t of industrial lead have been deposited over Antarctica during the past 130 years as a result of mid-latitude industrial emissions, with regional-to-global scale circulation likely modulating aerosol concentrations. Despite abatement efforts, significant lead pollution in Antarctica persists into the 21st century.

Item Type: Publication - Article
Digital Object Identifier (DOI): https://doi.org/10.1038/srep05848
Programmes: BAS Programmes > Polar Science for Planet Earth (2009 - ) > Chemistry and Past Climate
Additional Keywords: cryospheric science, environmental chemistry
Date made live: 13 Aug 2014 08:45 +0 (UTC)
URI: http://nora.nerc.ac.uk/id/eprint/507841

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