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A shallow firn core, recovered from the southern Patagonia ice cap (elevation 2680 m a.s.I.), has been analyzed for H stable isotope composition and for major soluble chemical compounds. The temperature measurement at 13.17 m depth (bottom of the core) shows that the ice cap is temperate. The chemical profiles indicate that some soluble impurities have been partly washed out by percolation, but seasonal deuterium content variations are relatively well preserved down to the bottom of the core, which allows the net accumulation rate of the site to be calculated (1.2 m water equivalent). The mean concentrations measured in the most recent year recorded (Cl−:4.85, nssSO42−: 0.65, NO3−:0.32, Na+:4.30, K+:0.64 and NH4+: 0.77, in μeq. 1−1) serve as a reference for the background chemical composition of precipitation at mid-southern latitudes under South Pacific meteorological conditions.
Acid fallout from volcanic eruptions is well documented in the Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets (Hammer and others, 1980; Hammer, 1984; Legrand and Delmas, 1987). However, to date, no volcanic ash (tephra) layers have been positively identified in association with any of the high electrical conductivity layers that mark the volcanic acid deposition. In this paper we report the results of a study of the chemical composition of insoluble microparticles filtered from five intervals of a core from the South Pole. These five intervals were identified by Kirchner (1988) as being due to volcanic fallout, on the basis of electrical conductivity and sulfuric acid measurements.
The major element composition of tiny (<5 µm) glass shards found in these layers was determined and compared with analyses of volcanic ash from known eruptions or from volcanic sources suspected of having produced the fallout. Glass shards from volcanic eruptions of both local (Antarctic and sub-Antarctic) and of global (Indonesian/South American) importance have been identified in this study.
The chemical composition of soluble impurities along the Dome C ice core covering approximately the last 30 000 years is reported and interpreted in terms of atmospheric contributions. Terrestrial and sea-salt inputs are known to have been much higher during the Last Glacial Maximum (LGM) than during the Holocene period. For this reason, the gas-derived compounds (mainly H2SO4 and HNO3) which dominate the chemistry of present-day snow are minor components in LGM snow. The exact calculation of each of the various contributions has been made possible by the determination of all major ions (H+, Na+, K+, NH4+, Mg2+, Ca2+, NO3−, SO42− and Cl−) in the samples. Three additional deep ice cores from other Antarctic areas have also been analyzed, but in a less comprehensive manner than the Dome C core. The differences observed at the four study sites increase the general understanding of the past atmospheric chemistry of the Southern Hemisphere.
Major soluble chemical impurities have been measured along a 130 m firn core from the Amundsen–Scott Station in order to assess Southern Hemisphere environmental variability over the last millennium. Particular attention is given to the possible impact of the Little Ice Age, a well-known climatic disturbance which occurred in the Northern Hemisphere between about A.D. 1500 and 1900.
Na+, K+, NH4+, Cl+, SO42− and NO3− concentrations were carefully determined in forty-two 40 cm firn sections. Stringent precautions were taken to ensure the analytical reliability of the data set obtained. The average concentrations are (in ng g−1): 11.0 ± 2.5, 0.7 ± 0.4, 0.5 ± 0.2, 31 ± 5.6, 58 ± 11.6 and 103 ± 11.6 respectively (the scatter represents the standard deviation).
No definite trend is detected which could be linked to the Little Ice Age disturbance.
D 57 station in Terre Adélie lies between the coast and the central Antarctic plateau. A 200 m ice core was recovered in summer 1980–81 at this location and analyzed by an electroconductometric method to detect exceptional acid levels linked to fallout from major volcanic eruptions. Several signals were indeed found. The corresponding ice-core sections were then analyzed for mineral acids (H2SO4 and HNO3). We detected several large volcanic events, in particular two eruptions identified as Tarabora (1815) and Galunggung (1822). The background concentration of sulphate was found to be relatively low (about 0.5 μeq 1−1). On the other hand nitrate values were higher than at coastal or central Antarctic locations (except for the Sauth Pole). Two spikes were found in the nitrate profile at depths of 140 and 148 m. It is thought that they could be either linked to the 1604 and 1572 supernovae Kepler and Tycho or correspond to epochs of particularly high solar activities. With the aid of these sulphate and nitrate exceptional events, a dating of the D 57 ice core can now be proposed which corresponds to a mean snow accumulation rate of 22 cm of ice equivalent per year over the last four centuries.
The chemistry of recently deposited snow sampled in 1982–83 along a 430 km coast-interior traverse in Terre Adelie, East Antarctica, is reported. In addition, three firn samples, covering the same time period (1959 to 1969) and collected on the traverse at D 55, D 80 and Dome C stations, respectively at 200, 430 and 1070 km from the sea, are also studied. Concentrations of major soluble impurities (H+, , Na+, K+, Cl−, and ) were determined by ion chromatography (except H+ which was titrated) on more than 200 samples. Conditions of sampling and analysis were carefully controlled in order to avoid contamination problems. A balanced ionic budget was generally obtained for each of the samples. For stations occupying an intermediary position between the coastal areas and the central Antarctic plateau, our results demonstrate that the two major impurities are H2SO4 and HNO3. HCl is also present, but at a lower level of concentration; the sea-salt contribution is dominant only at the most coastal sites (within 40 km) of the sea. The degree of neutralization of the snow acidity by NH3 is always very low as indicated by the values of content. The mean concentrations of H2SO4 along the traverse are relatively constant whereas an increase of the HNO3 concentrations is observed when going inland. It decreases, however, in most central areas. These results are discussed in relation to the glaciochemical data published for other locations on the Antarctic plateau, in particular the sulphate concentrations which depend strongly on explosive volcanic activity.
New results concerning the concentration of sulphate (SO4) and nitrate (NO3) in Antarctic snow and ice are presented. At Dome C, 10-year mean values and detailed studies (more than one sample a−1) were done at different depths corresponding to ages from 0 to 23 ka BP. Global volcanic activity strongly disturbs profiles of sulphate concentration for periods of a few years. Long-term fluctuations are found to be weak for both anions. The mean values obtained for acidity agree satisfactorily with the values for sulphate and nitrate. Finally, we examine the probable origin of these gas-derived aerosols in Antarctica.
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