The chemical stratigraphy of the surface firn of the central Filchner- Ronne Ice Shelf was determined in conjunction with stable isotopes from shallow firn cores and snow-pit samples collected at 1.1 widely distributed sites, and covering a time period of at least 20 years. The chemical analysis included ECM profiling and the determination of chloride, non-sea-salt (nss) sulphate, methanesulphonate (MSA), nitrate and, partly, sodium and bromide. Throughout the investigated area, winter time nss sulphate levels are found to be substantially negative, indicating that the sulphate to sodium ratio in airborne sea-salt particles is depleted by a factor of 5, approximately, in relation to the bulk sea-water ratio. While winter firn layers appear to be marked by episodic events of large sea-salt inputs, pronounced annual cycles with maxima in summer firn layers are commonly observed for the ECM signal and for nss sulphate, nitrate and MSA at all sites. For MSA, however, this phase relation is almost reversed for depths greater than 3-4m.
The mean impurity levels consistently are strongly depleted with increasing distance from the ice edge by about 30% / 100 km for sea salt, 25% / 100 km for MSA and only 10%/ 100 km for nss sulphate. However, no substantial trend is observed for nitrate. It is concluded, therefore, that the sea-salt and the biogenic sulphur compounds deposited on the Filchner-Ronne Ice Shelf mainly originate from the adjacent Weddell Sea.
Further important implications of the continental effects are: (a) an atmospheric residence time of nss sulphate apparently exceeding that of MSA probably due to the supplementary sulphate production on the ice shelf from biogenic SO2, and (b) a substantial limitation of the potential of deep ice cores already drilled on the Filchner- Ronne Ice Shelf in extracting reliable net temporal changes of sea-salt and biogenic sulphur species.